WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, released the following statement on passage of legislation to extend the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program:
“I am pleased that the Senate passed legislation to provide additional Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghans who have worked for our government, many since 2001, as interpreters for our military, alongside our diplomats and with other U.S. entities in Afghanistan. These brave Afghans have put their lives, and the lives of their families, at risk due to their service. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“The State Department informed Congress that they have exhausted the allotment of SIVs authorized last December, meaning that thousands of our Afghan allies would be left stranded and at the mercy of the Taliban as the U.S. withdrawal accelerates. The bill provides an additional 1,000 SIVs through fiscal year 2014 and is identical to the Senate bill authored by Senators Shaheen and McCain which I cosponsored. We must take additional action later this year as the number of U.S.-affiliated Afghans waiting for SIVs far exceeds the number provided to date. The United State must fulfill its promises to our Afghan Allies.”