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house Bill H.R. 3985

Should the Number of Special Immigrant Visas Available for Afghans Who Worked With the U.S. Be Increased?

Argument in favor

Under current law, there aren’t enough Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to accommodate all of the Afghans who worked with the U.S. government or coalition partners and wish to come to America amid death threats by the Taliban. This bill would raise the cap on SIVs to meet demand in addition to making other changes that streamline the program to operate more efficiently amid the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

jimK's Opinion
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Yesterday at 4:11 AM
Yes, protect those who protected our sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends and neighbors. Most of the other UN countries have already done this. The extra special VISA’s need to be increased and our Stone Age procedures need to be expedited to keep these people safe. Our commitment extends not only to those that helped us, but also their immediate families who are also at great risk of lethal retaliation. I hope to see roads adequately protected from the Taliban for those who have to travel to Kandahar. Hopefully, we will have enough troops left to fly helicopter air cover if needed and drones to monitor roadway ambush sites and take them out, if needed.
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larubia's Opinion
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Yesterday at 4:35 AM
My husband worked with many Afghans when he was deployed to their country. They worked alongside our troops, providing valuable translation services and intelligence that served & saved Americans . These Afghans & their families will be killed by the Taliban if left behind. This is not hyperbole; this is what will happen. Allow them to come to our country.
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Kimberly's Opinion
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Yesterday at 5:10 PM
Absolutely they should be increased. This brave souls helped save our Soldiers lives and worked hard to protect Americans and our Country as well as their own. We owe them so much more and we must keep our promises.
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Argument opposed

Congress shouldn’t increase the number of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) available to Afghans who worked with the U.S. to accommodate demand or allow Afghans whose work was officially classified as “sensitive and trusted” to apply. Additionally, the U.S. should still require that Afghans applying for SIVs to offer a credible sworn statement that they face Taliban death threats.

Frank-001's Opinion
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Yesterday at 3:59 AM
PASSED THE HOUSE 07-22-21 How do you say “No" without saying "No!" We have an immigration problem; tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands want to come to America, all want in now. I am not an open border person, but I do not object to a small increase in a small increase in Special Immigration Visas to Afghans if there is a _legitimate_ basis to provide Special Immigration Visas. I cannot imagine that we had more than a thousand or so Afghans who provided competent, sensitive and material help to the State Department, the CIA or the American Military. Why the increase to 8,000? 8,000?? Strange number! Is it like the opening number in haggling? You want 2,000 but you ask for 8,000? What's going on? What makes their threat greater than that of our neighbors from Latin America or other lands? Why remove the requirement that eligible Afghans have actually engaged in “sensitive and trusted” employment with the International Security Assistance Force? Why remove the requirement to substantiate that those persons providing non-sensitive support are at risk from retribution from the Taliban? Sure, maybe others helped with certain aspects like supplies, but not with critical aspects. These people should have learned from our forces and prepared to deal with taking over their country politically and militarily. It was no one's intention to simply rescue Afghans from each other. Are we leaving the "legitimate" government unprepared? If so, why? Again, I do not object to a small increase in Special Immigration Visas to Afghans. There just must be a _legitimate_ basis to provide Special Immigration Visas to Afghans.
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Lane's Opinion
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Yesterday at 4:33 PM
No. We should not be dismantled. Look up a map of the true size of countries. The map you are used to inflates countries near the equator. In truth, all of the United States, all of Europe, China, India and Japan can ALL fit into the top portion of Africa. We can't just take in everyone in our small nation. The average African family (in Africa) has 9 children. The middle east and Africa have major steps to overcome for establishing their civilization. They still murder Christians, LGBTQ, Non Muslims, and women are treated horribly. It's time for them to stop overpopulating and create law and order and human rights in their nations. In Zimbabwe the white farmers were genocided and everything was left in place for them. They still saw famine. It is time for them to stop the hatred of other skin colors and religions, stop demonizing white people and start fixing things at home. We should not dismantle and bring down the only places on the globe with liberty and propserity so we are all equitable in suffering, rather, they need to step it up. Accept pur help or don't. But we can't destroy liberty and rule of law and go into extinction waiting for them to join civilization. If we don't stop this, and the 6000/day coming over, we will soon degrade and be like them, and then we will have NOTHING to offer our own dwindling children and NOTHING to offer anyone who wanted to come here for liberty.
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Glory's Opinion
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Yesterday at 10:35 AM
Sorry folks, America's full. GO AWAY!! On a serious note, this is ridiculous. When you import the 3rd world, you become the 3rd world. We can't even help all of our people. I'm so tired of hearing how we need to help the rest of the world.
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What is House Bill H.R. 3985?

This bill — known as the ALLIES Act — would increase the number of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) available to Afghans who served as translators or otherwise assisted the U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan by 8,000 (which would raise the overall cap to 18,000 to cover the backlog of applicants). It would remove the requirement that eligible Afghans have engaged in “sensitive and trusted” employment with the International Security Assistance Force to expand the pool of qualified applicants; in addition to ending the requirement for a “credible sworn statement” about the threat applicants face for having worked on behalf of the U.S. government due to the public and clandestine reporting that Afghans who worked for the U.S. face heightened risk of retribution from the Taliban.

The bill’s full title is the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act of 2021.

Impact

Afghan interpreters who worked with the U.S. and their immediate family members; and DHS and HHS.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3985

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Jason Crow (D-CO) introduced this bill with 23 bipartisan members of the Honoring Our Promises Working Group to increase the cap on Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghans who worked with the U.S. and make other changes to streamline the program. Crow offered the following statement on the bill’s introduction:

“When I served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I worked closely with local translators and contractors who were critical to our safety and the success of our mission. They performed this service at great risk to themselves and their families, but with the understanding that the U.S. would stand by them. Now it is time for the U.S. to honor our promises and protect our Afghan partners. The ALLIES Act would expedite the SIV application process by increasing the SIV cap and removing burdensome requirements. I’m proud to work on this commonsense legislation with my colleagues in the Honoring our Promises Working Group.”

Lead Republican cosponsor Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) added:

“Since 2006, Congress has signaled their support for the Afghan men and women who assisted the United States in the Global War on Terror through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. While the program has suffered unacceptable delays and backlogs since its creation, the imminent withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan has placed thousands of our allies at risk for retribution. Today, I’m proud to co-lead legislation with my colleague Congressman Crow that will authorize additional SIVs and remove unnecessary hurdles for our allies to find safety in the United States—just as we promised. More needs to be done to fulfill our promise to our Afghan allies. The Administration must begin evacuating those most at risk for retribution from the Taliban. Again, I want to thank Congressman Crow for his leadership in crafting this legislation.”

American Legion National Security Commission Chairman Steve Brennan expressed his organization’s support for the bill in a statement:

“Alliance with Afghan wartime allies forged bridges to the Afghan people and their linguistic skills proved essential in building close working relations with local nationals. Now, with the U.S. withdrawal date in Afghanistan drawing closer, their lives are endangered more than ever as terrorist organizations like the Taliban seek retribution.  The ALLIES Act will increase the cap of Afghan SIVs and ensure Afghan interpreters can move expeditiously through the SIV process so they can leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. The American Legion vigorously supports the ALLIES Act because it will protect the lives of Afghan interpreters and recognize their contributions as loyal allies who stood shoulder to shoulder with U.S. servicemembers.”

This legislation has the support of 134 bipartisan cosponsors, including 99 Democrats and 35 Republicans.


Of NoteIn 2006, Congress established the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to allow Afghans and Iraqis who served alongside U.S. forces as interpreters or contractors to receive permanent U.S. resident status and access to benefits for refugees. From the creation of the SIV program to March 31, 2021, a total of 99,279 individuals received SIV visas, including 30,541 Afghans and Iraqis who worked with the U.S. plus 68,738 dependent spouses and children, according to data from the State Dept.

The SIV program currently has an application backlog of more than 18,000 Afghans. Congress has acted on several occasions over the years to adopt bills to address the visa shortage by incorporating legislation into defense authorization bills.

Historically, it takes about 800 days for the State Dept. to process an application and conduct security screenings. In addition to security screenings, medical exams are a significant bottleneck in the process as Afghans are required to travel to Kabul to receive them, a journey which can prove dangerous given the Taliban’s presence in the country.

Afghan interpreters and their families are often targeted by the Taliban as part of the terror group’s campaign of assassination and intimidation. In a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the issue in May, Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), a former Green Beret, and retired Army Ranger Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) recounted stories about Afghans they served alongside who were subsequently murdered by the Taliban for assisting American and coalition forces. Crow explained that a man named Mohammad who worked with the U.S. for 12 years and first applied for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) in 2010 faced repeated delays and denials until he was gunned down in January 2021 in front of his 10-year old son by the Taliban, who later sent Mohammad’s oldest son a death threat.

In June 2021, the House passed a bill to waive for one year the requirement that Afghans seeking SIVs undergo a medical exam prior to their admission to the U.S. amid the ongoing U.S. withdrawal. The U.S. is expected to complete its withdrawal before the end of August 2021 after the Biden administration initially announced a September 11th deadline.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Stephen Schester via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Allies Act of 2021

Official Title

To amend the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 to expedite the special immigrant visa process for certain Afghan allies, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed July 22nd, 2021
    Roll Call Vote 407 Yea / 16 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJune 17th, 2021

Log in or create an account to see how your Reps voted!
    Yes, protect those who protected our sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends and neighbors. Most of the other UN countries have already done this. The extra special VISA’s need to be increased and our Stone Age procedures need to be expedited to keep these people safe. Our commitment extends not only to those that helped us, but also their immediate families who are also at great risk of lethal retaliation. I hope to see roads adequately protected from the Taliban for those who have to travel to Kandahar. Hopefully, we will have enough troops left to fly helicopter air cover if needed and drones to monitor roadway ambush sites and take them out, if needed.
    Like (73)
    Follow
    Share
    PASSED THE HOUSE 07-22-21 How do you say “No" without saying "No!" We have an immigration problem; tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands want to come to America, all want in now. I am not an open border person, but I do not object to a small increase in a small increase in Special Immigration Visas to Afghans if there is a _legitimate_ basis to provide Special Immigration Visas. I cannot imagine that we had more than a thousand or so Afghans who provided competent, sensitive and material help to the State Department, the CIA or the American Military. Why the increase to 8,000? 8,000?? Strange number! Is it like the opening number in haggling? You want 2,000 but you ask for 8,000? What's going on? What makes their threat greater than that of our neighbors from Latin America or other lands? Why remove the requirement that eligible Afghans have actually engaged in “sensitive and trusted” employment with the International Security Assistance Force? Why remove the requirement to substantiate that those persons providing non-sensitive support are at risk from retribution from the Taliban? Sure, maybe others helped with certain aspects like supplies, but not with critical aspects. These people should have learned from our forces and prepared to deal with taking over their country politically and militarily. It was no one's intention to simply rescue Afghans from each other. Are we leaving the "legitimate" government unprepared? If so, why? Again, I do not object to a small increase in Special Immigration Visas to Afghans. There just must be a _legitimate_ basis to provide Special Immigration Visas to Afghans.
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    My husband worked with many Afghans when he was deployed to their country. They worked alongside our troops, providing valuable translation services and intelligence that served & saved Americans . These Afghans & their families will be killed by the Taliban if left behind. This is not hyperbole; this is what will happen. Allow them to come to our country.
    Like (42)
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    Need to do whatever it takes to provide visas for Afghans working for US troops in Afghanistan and their families.
    Like (32)
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    Absolutely they should be increased. This brave souls helped save our Soldiers lives and worked hard to protect Americans and our Country as well as their own. We owe them so much more and we must keep our promises.
    Like (22)
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    Well let's see, they risked their lives & the lives of their families for years to protect US interests, what might be a great way to say "thanks, we appreciate the help"? Additionally, employers can't find enough workers, so they are still needed!
    Like (19)
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    Every single Afghan who risked their lives assisting us should immediately receive these visas and be safely relocated. What the hell is there to discuss?
    Like (17)
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    We abanded S. Vietnam (I was in Air Force then). We must stop betraying Our allies.
    Like (17)
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    Suspend the rules. Open the borders and let those Afghans who rendered assistance in without all the hurdles and barriers.
    Like (16)
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    They helped us we help them
    Like (15)
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    If there is a cap currently then expand it as far as it needs to be. These folks put their lives and the lives of their families in harms way to help our men and women in uniform. As we leave we need to be bringing them here to safety. ASAP
    Like (15)
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    Absolutely, yes! This country owes those people a debt of gratitude and we should do everything in our power to ensure their safety.
    Like (15)
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    We should protect all those that protected our troops. Give all of them the ability to come to our country to safety. It’s the right thing to do.
    Like (15)
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    Knowing the outcome should we deny them a visa, I would say we should increase the amount of Visas for these people.
    Like (14)
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    These people supported us when we needed there expertise. The least we need to do is help them now.
    Like (1)
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    The number of visas available must equal the number of Afghans who aided the US in any way. They will be killed if they are not invited to live in the US.
    Like (12)
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    We need workers and these people served as Allies to our soldiers- this just makes complete sense.
    Like (12)
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    People who put their life and their families life on the line to support the US mission in Afghanistan should not be left behind. They have served our country and demonstrated courage to support US goals.
    Like (11)
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    These people risked their lives helping US and allied soldiers lives. If we tu5our back on them why would anyone else ever help us?............. Here's a question for those of you that say no, how many US soldiers lives have you saved?
    Like (10)
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    They put their live and family at risk for Americans, what do you think?
    Like (10)
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    Allied countries have brought in translators and assets from Afghan. Our global reputation has spent 4 years being dragged through the mud. We are growing our own terrorists. Welcoming friends can’t hurt. Do the right thing and save them!
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