The failure of Congress to renew the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program endangers people who served as translators for US troops in Afghanistan. Enduring the same dangers and hardships as the troops, the translators sometimes fought alongside them. Links to details will follow shortly.
This is not about whether the war in Afghanistan (or any war) was justified. This is about doing right by good people who put their lives on the line but are being abandoned by lazy pols.
As a thoughtful video (under 3 minutes) produced by No One Left Behind points out, this is one of those extremely rare situations where it would be fairly easy to act both honorably and in our own self-interest, if only Congress would listen to a few combat veterans in its own ranks.
The rest of this post is excerpted from e-mail about the visa crisis that I received 2016-09-19 from No One Left Behind. There are plenty of links to details in the excerpt.
Congress left Washington, DC at the end of last week having failed to hold a vote on the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program. As a result of their unconscionable inaction, the State Department will run out of visas on 1 October 2016 (the start of the new fiscal year). The current backlog of visas is roughly 10,000 applicants (when one includes family, we estimate the true number of applicants is 35,000+). Thanks to Congress, our country will now break its promise to our Afghan translators and other wartime allies – who will continue to wait in limbo, in hiding, afraid that any moment might be the one where the Taliban or ISIS’s death squads finally find them. How many will die before Congress does their job (votes to renew the program and authorize and issue more visas to the State Department) and honors our nation’s promise?
To help highlight the national security implications of this issue and the importance of protecting the honor of the American military, veterans, and credibility, we organized a Letter to Congress, which we delivered on 6 September 2016. Hundreds of thousands of veterans, representing every branch of service in every American conflict dating back to World War II joined Medal of Honor recipients from Vietnam to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, former Chairmen and members of the Joint Chiefs, numerous wartime commanders, and other general and flag officers in adding their signatures to the letter.
˙ ˙ ˙ This past weekend, the [Wall Street] Journal joined the New York Times and the Washington Post in urging the Congress to renew and properly fund the program – the nation’s three leading newspapers are rarely this unified on matters of policy.
This is the 11th hour. The State Department will run out of visas in 11 days. Unless we build a movement and demand Congress renew the program immediately, it will likely die an unceremonious death, lost as an obscure program that got drowned out by the intense rhetoric of the 2016 election.
Help us prevent this tragedy by doing two things:
- Forward this email to 10 friends and urge them to join the fight by signing up at www.nooneleft.org/savethesiv.
- Share the following on Twitter and Facebook: Keep our obligation to our #Veterans. Tell Congress to #SaveTheSIV. nooneleft.org/savethesiv https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwmMviIBpwg
If U have not already done so, please contact your Senators and Representatives.
I dislike phones and try to be much less scathing when communicating to pols rather than about them, so I used the e-mail links on my legislators’ web pages to send the following message.
General topic: Immigration | National Security
Specific topic: Afghan Special Immigrant Visas
The failure of Congress to renew the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program endangers people who served as translators for US troops in Afghanistan. Enduring the same dangers and hardships as the troops, the translators sometimes fought alongside them. This is one of those extremely rare situations where it would be fairly easy to act both honorably and in our own self-interest, if only Congress would listen to a few combat veterans in its own ranks and do right by good people who put their lives on the line but are being abandoned.