Saturday, July 02, 2016

Senate Panel Grants More Visas for Afghans Who Supported US

WASHINGTON — A Senate panel decided Wednesday to provide an additional 4,000 visas to allow Afghans who sided with the American-led coalition and are at risk of being killed or injured by the Taliban to resettle in the United States.

The Appropriations Committee voted unanimously, 30 to 0, to approve a foreign operations spending bill that includes a provision granting the extra visas and extending the so-called special immigrant visa program for another year.

The Afghan civilians worked for the coalition as interpreters, firefighters and construction laborers. But the militants considered them traitors. The top American commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Nicholson, urged Congress to extend the special immigrant visa program so they and their families could escape what he called "grave consequences."

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., pushed for the program to be continued, telling her colleagues that many Americans who served in Afghanistan are alive today because of the support they received from Afghans willing to put themselves in danger.
"If Congress fails to extend this program, this could be a death sentence for many Afghans who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our military and diplomats," Shaheen said.

Shaheen and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had sought earlier this month to extend and expand the visa program by adding an amendment to the annual defense policy bill. But a procedural dispute prevented most amendments from being debated and included in the legislation.

Senate backers of the visa program still face objections from skeptical lawmakers in the GOP-led House. In the House's version of the defense bill, lawmakers refused to provide the 4,000 additional visas. They did extend the program for a year, but restricted eligibility for visas only to Afghans whose jobs took them outside the confines of a military base or secured facility. - Read More at the nytimes
Senate Panel Grants More Visas for Afghans Who Supported US

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