DearColleague.us

Letter

Earl Blumenauer

From the office of:

Earl Blumenauer

 

From: The Honorable Earl Blumenauer
Sent By:
kelsey.aulakh@mail.house.gov

Date: 7/29/2016

Dear Colleague:

 

Please join us in urging FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conferees to extend the Afghan special immigrant visa (SIV) program, authorize additional visas, and retain the future viability of the program.

The Senate overwhelmingly (84-12) passed a motion to instruct NDAA conferees to extend the program for one year and to provide additional visas on July 14th. Meanwhile, prominent military leaders, diplomats, and national security experts – including Gen.
John Nicholson, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. David Petraeus, and Amb. Ryan Crocker – have urged Congress to take action, noting the essential role this program plays in U.S. national security and in building credibility among our allies.

We hope you will join us in this bipartisan effort to demonstrate our strong support of this critical program. We owe it to these important allies to ensure that they are not left behind, while assuring others across the globe that the United States will
stand by its commitments.

To sign on, please contact Kelsey Aulakh (kelsey.aulakh@mail.house.gov) in Rep. Blumenauer’s office, or Zach Silberman (zach.silberman@mail.house.gov) in
Rep. Kinzinger’s office. Deadline is TUESDAY, AUGUST 2ND.

 

Sincerely,

Rep. Earl Blumenauer Rep. Adam Kinzinger
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Rep. Seth Moulton Rep. Steve Stivers
Member of Congress Member of Congress

____________________________________________________

 

Dear Chairman McCain, Ranking Member Reed, Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, and Conferees:

 

During conference committee consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, we encourage you to follow the Senate-passed motion to instruct conferees to include language to extend the Afghan special immigrant visa
(SIV) program and authorize additional visas, while also retaining the future viability of this critical program.

The Afghan SIV program was first enacted through the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 to provide a life-saving path to safety for Afghan nationals who worked alongside U.S. troops, diplomats, and contractors, and who face serious danger as a result of
that work.  Since then, the program has been extended and reformed numerous times, each time with significant bipartisan and bicameral support. This year, Congress must act so that the State Department can continue to issue visas to Afghans who face imminent
threat from the Taliban and other hostile groups because of their service to the U.S. and our allies. Prominent military leaders, diplomats, and national security experts – including Gen. John Nicholson, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. David Petraeus, and Amb.
Ryan Crocker – have urged Congress to take action, noting the essential role this program plays in U.S. national security and in building credibility among our allies.

The Administration aims to issue the remaining authorized visas by the end of this calendar year. Meanwhile, there are thousands of Afghans at some stage in the SIV process and qualified individuals continue to apply. That is why the President, in his FY2017
budget, asked Congress to authorize additional visas to help address the remaining backlog of applicants. Without further congressional action, the State Department will exhaust its current supply of visas, essentially halting the SIV program, stranding these
valuable allies and sending a discouraging message to allies involved in future engagements. We urge you to authorize these additional visas to prevent a shutdown of the SIV program.

During the House’s consideration of H.R. 4909, language was included in Section 1216 that would restrict program eligibility to exclude Afghans who worked in U.S. consulates, embassies, or military bases. These restrictions could have a harmful impact on
those Afghans that worked on-base with U.S. troops, or in any number of capacities with U.S. diplomats, because they are just as likely to face danger if their service becomes known to forces hostile to the United States. We urge you to retain current eligibility
guidelines for the Afghan SIV program. These allies risked their lives to serve the United States and we owe it to them to ensure their safety.

We urge you to stand in strong support of our national security and, in recognition of the sacrifice of our Afghan allies, to authorize additional visas for SIV applicants and to protect current SIV guidelines. In previous years, Congress has used the NDAA
to demonstrate our strong support to these important allies while assuring others across the globe that the United States will stand by its commitments in future missions. We urge you to continue to do so.

 

Sincerely,