Congresswoman Escobar Votes to Honor our Promise and Protect our Brave Afghan Partners
Washington, DC, July 22, 2021
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted for H.R. 3985, the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act, legislation to protect Afghan interpreters, contractors, security personnel, and other partners who face deadly retribution by the Taliban for their work with the United States government.
This bipartisan legislation will expand and expedite the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process, which helps Afghan partners and their families safely immigrate to the United States.
“When our nation went to war in Afghanistan, we made a promise to protect those who worked and fought side by side with U.S. forces. Today, Congress is honoring this important commitment,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “The ALLIES Act would protect the courageous Afghans who put their lives on the line to support our troops and who are now facing the deadly threat of retribution from the Taliban. I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation to help our brave partners and their families escape violence.”
Created in 2009, the Afghan SIV program offers visas to interpreters, contractors and security personnel who worked with the U.S. government in Afghanistan, who now live in fear of violent retribution by the Taliban. However, severe delays and backlogs have left many applicants waiting years for their visas – with hundreds being killed before receiving approval. As the United States continues the troop withdrawal process from Afghanistan, it is an urgent priority to ensure the safety of Afghan SIV applicants and their families.
The ALLIES Act, which was introduced by Congressman Jason Crow (CO-06) and the bipartisan Honoring our Promises Working Group, increases the number of available visas by 8,000, eliminates redundant paperwork, and clarifies eligibility standards for the program. This legislation also strengthens protections for surviving spouses and children of deceased SIV applicants, helping more of them retain their SIV eligibility. These changes will help streamline visa processing without compromising the strict background check and vetting procedures in place to protect national security.
The Biden administration supports this legislation. Additionally, the Administration announced this week plans to evacuate 2,500 Afghan partners to Fort Lee in Virginia while they await final processing of their visas as the evacuation process begins.