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    Supporting Our Afghan Allies: Fulfilling a Twenty-Year Promise

    “Taliban militants and terrorists have long targeted our interpreters, including their wives and children. By the time the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan in September 2021, there will be little defense left for these loyal allies…More than 17,000 Afghans who worked with U.S. forces are still waiting for a decision from the U.S. Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. The process is mired in a maddening bureaucracy. Many have waited for years after going through security checks with practically every U.S. government agency imaginable, often at their own expense for health screenings and other requirements. The situation has only become more dire of late with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul halting visa applicant interviews because of an escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Afghanistan.”

    Florent “Flo” Groberg With Honor Action Advisory Board Member and Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Army Captain

    For more than 20 years, Americans fought, bled, and died in Afghanistan — our nation’s longest war. Every step of the way, brave Afghans stood shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. forces. When Kabul fell in August 2021, tens of thousands of Afghans were evacuated to the United States, admitted under temporary protected status, a designation that protects them from deportation but does not include a path to permanent residency or U.S. citizenship.

    Recognizing our wartime allies in Afghanistan faced a dire situation, With Honor Action began advocating for reforms to the deeply flawed Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process years in advance of America’s withdrawal. In the spring of 2021, With Honor Action convened dozens of Veteran Service Organizations and humanitarian organizations to advocate for mass evacuations, reforms to humanitarian parole processing, and continued support for wartime allies stranded in Afghanistan.

    With Honor Action created an advocacy ad for critical legislation to assist Afghan refugees, featuring For Country Caucus Members Reps. Jason Crow and Peter Meijer, and With Honor Action Advisory Board Member and Medal of Honor recipient Army Captain Flo Groberg (ret.).

    Watch the ad below:

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    With Honor Action worked with members of the For Country Caucus to pass bipartisan legislation supporting of our Afghan allies including: 

    • The Honoring Our Promises through Expedition (HOPE) for Afghan SIVs Act was led by For Country Caucus members Representatives Jason Crow and Brad Wenstrup, with the act’s key provisions passing in late July of 2021, shortly before the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The act waived a requirement that SIV applicants receive a medical screening in Afghanistan and appropriated $500 million to evacuate Afghan allies ahead of the withdrawal. Another $600 million went to the State Department for refugee and migration assistance and $25 million to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement for the special immigrant visa program
    • The Afghanistan War Commission Act of 2021 led by For Country Caucus members Representatives Peter Meijer and Seth Moulton authorized a non-partisan, independent commission to conduct a comprehensive examination of the War in Afghanistan. The Commission will study the entirety of America’s longest conflict and provide recommendations and lessons-learned

    By the end of 2021, $6.4 billion was dedicated to expediting special immigrant visa processes for Afghan translators and interpreters and increasing support for resettlement efforts. However, the more than 76,000 Afghans evacuated to the United States still have no pathway to permanent residency. Additionally, only 4,500 special immigrant visas remain available for the estimated 152,000 SIV-eligible applicants still left in Afghanistan. In the current Congress, With Honor Action is leading on two key pieces of legislation to support our Afghan allies.

    • The Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA), led by For Country Caucus Vice Chair Representative Marianette Miller-Meeks, is modeled upon previous bipartisan bills passed under the Johnson Administration for Cuban exiles and under the Ford Administration for Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees. It would put the Afghans already present in the United States on a viable path towards permanent residency and expand eligibility to at-risk groups like the Afghan Female Tactical Platoon.
    • The Afghan Allies Protection Act (AAPA), led by For Country Caucus Co-Chair Representative Jason Crow and member Representative Brad Wenstrup, addresses the needs of Afghans abroad, authorizing 20,000 additional special immigrant visas and clarifying authorities for the federal government to help streamline and further expedite the application process, including a provision to allow for remote/virtual interviews.Though many have moved on, With Honor Action remain committed to supporting our Afghan allies. They stood with America. Now it’s time for America to stand with them.
    With Honor Action joins with members of the For Country Caucus to advocate for our Afghan allies.

    “Thousands of our brave Afghan allies who served alongside U.S. military forces and in cooperative agreements and grants with U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations are at grave risk after putting their lives in danger for years. Co-sponsored by the bipartisan veterans of the For Country Caucus, the ALLIES Act will help get these brave Afghans and their children to safety and streamline the whole process. It is our responsibility to stand by those who have stood by us. I urge Congress to pass it immediately,”

    Dr. Robert Gates 22nd U.S. Secretary of Defense and With Honor Action Advisory Board Member
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