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US Senators call for more visas for vulnerable Afghans

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Kabul: Bipartisan senators are urging for an expansion of visas for Afghans who supported U.S. forces, pressing congressional leaders to take action before the opportunity for these individuals to seek refuge in the United States expires.

According to The Associated Press, a coalition of Republican and Democratic senators emphasized the critical need to increase the number of special immigrant visas (SIV) by 20,000 before the fiscal year concludes in September.

This plea for congressional action aligns with the stance of the Biden administration. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reaffirmed the administration’s enduring commitment to Afghan allies in the post-war era, emphasizing the ongoing necessity for support.

The urgency of raising the visa cap was underscored in last year’s funding bill, but its fate in the final legislative package remains uncertain as lawmakers navigate a deadline set for March 22.

Established in 2009, the SIV program caters to Afghans who face risks due to their assistance to the United States, including interpreters and embassy staff. Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, there has been a surge in the number of applications.

Kirby reiterated the administration’s commitment to supporting Afghan allies, urging Congress to expedite the allocation of additional visas. “Our military engagement in Afghanistan may have ended, but our obligation to Afghans, especially those who aided us, remains steadfast,” Kirby stated, advocating for measures to ensure their safety.

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