WASHINGTON – On the one-year anniversary of the fall of the Afghan government to the Taliban, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is calling for Congress to do more to assist the many Afghans at risk who previously served in support of U.S. interests in Afghanistan. For years before the U.S. military withdrawal, Senator Cardin has called on the U.S. government to uphold its commitment to these individuals who risked their lives to support our efforts in their country. On this anniversary, he reiterated the need to prioritize the processing of pending immigrant visa cases for special categories of Afghan citizens, including Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), P1/P2 refugees, and cases of humanitarian parole. Senator Cardin made a specific request that the State Department, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and other government agencies undertake the processing as soon as possible, and proposed that Congress assess additional strategies that might aid in the expeditious processing of these cases.
“In the aftermath of the fall of Afghanistan, there remains unfinished business for the U.S. to undertake: ensuring the well-being of Afghan citizens who put their lives on the line to serve and support our country. These are the Afghans who worked at our embassy and other diplomatic facilities, served as our translators, helped us engage with the Afghan government, and provided us information and assistance. They are the Afghans that served and studied in U.S. affiliated centers and universities. They are the Afghans who worked tirelessly to promote our principles as journalists working for U.S. affiliated outlets, like the Afghan services of RFE/RL, Radio Azadi and Ghandara. Without their assistance, more U.S. lives would have been lost.
“We owe a great debt to these individuals and their families, who have been at greater risk for the last 12 months. The 77,000 Afghans currently in the pipeline for Special Immigrant Visas, the 44,000 that await processing for their P1/P2 visas, and yet another almost 5,000 that seek humanitarian parole—are all counting on us. I urge the State Department to renew the priority efforts to expedite these cases.
“To date, the U.S. government has made enormous strides in this herculean effort: tens of thousands of these individuals were evacuated from Afghanistan following the collapse of the government. Yet tens of thousands more remain stranded in limbo, both in Afghanistan as well as in third countries, such as Pakistan, Qatar, UAE, Georgia, Albania, and the Kyrgyz Republic. They wait patiently, many of them running through their personal savings, many unable to work.
“We must redirect resources to fulfill our commitment to these individuals who risked it all to help the American effort in Afghanistan. I call on our State Department and USCIS to elevate the task of processing cases. In Congress, I also propose that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee convene to discuss additional ways that Congress can support the successful resolution of the Afghan SIV cases and permanent resettlement. After a two-decade effort, we must recognize this as a high priority across the government. For these individuals and their families, it is everything.”