Afghans who helped U.S. forces may get
more visas under defense bill
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[June 29, 2017]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.
Senate Armed Services Committee approved 4,000 more visas for Afghans
who worked for U.S. forces as interpreters or support staff on
Wednesday, an effort to preserve a program that had been at risk of
The committee included the additional visas in its version of the annual
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a must-pass piece of
legislation that sets priorities for the Department of Defense budget
for fiscal 2018, which will be about $650 billion.
The Senate and House of Representatives are currently working on
separate versions of the legislation, which must be reconciled and
passed by both chambers and signed by President Donald Trump before it
can become law.
The Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program allows Afghans who
worked for the U.S. government, often risking their lives, to move to
the United States after a rigorous vetting process.
Bipartisan pushes by U.S. lawmakers this year for more SIV visas have
come against the backdrop of efforts by the Trump administration to
clamp down on immigration from majority-Muslim countries.
In March, the U.S. embassy in Kabul said it had stopped scheduling
interviews for SIV applicants because it had nearly run out of visas,
but lawmakers included 2,500 more in a spending bill in April to
preserve the program.
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A U.S. Army soldier and a member of the Afghan Uniform Police arm
wrestle prior to a joint patrol near Command Outpost AJK (short for
Azim-Jan-Kariz, a near-by village) in Maiwand District, Kandahar
Province, Afghanistan, January 28, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Burton
“Our nation owes a great debt to the civilians who have provided
essential assistance to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, and I am
very pleased that this legislation authorizes the necessary visas
for these brave men and women,” said Democratic Senator Jeanne
Shaheen, who led the push for the legislation with Republican
Senator John McCain, the Armed Services Committee's chairman.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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