UPDATED 1:52 PM PT – Saturday, June 5, 2021
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are calling on the Biden administration to “immediately” evacuate Afghan nationals who helped U.S. forces during the war in the Middle Eastern nation.
In a letter to Joe Biden on Friday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers said they are becoming increasingly concerned he has not yet directed the Pentagon to mobilize as part of a concrete plan to help the Afghans. They warn that if the U.S. does not take action, these forces would almost certainly experience retaliation from the Taliban once American troops are brought home from the region.
The letter, which was led by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), stated “we appreciate the complexity of ending the War in Afghanistan, but we are increasingly concerned that you have not yet directed the Department of Defense be mobilized as part of a concrete and workable whole of government plan to protect our Afghan partners.”
The group also said that failing to protect our Afghan allies would have a lasting impact on future partnerships and global reputation. They fear that this would hurt the future of our national security more than ever.
We cannot let our Afghan allies get slaughtered because we can’t do their paperwork fast enough. We are out of time. We must plan their evacuation immediately, and then sort out their visas. https://t.co/uDyegfis0T
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) June 4, 2021
The letter comes just days after the Biden administration were discussing the Special Immigrant Visa program. Spokesperson Ned Price said the goal is to process SIV applications quickly by utilizing increased staff in Washington and Kabul.
Price commented saying, “we understand and we recognize that we have a special commitment and a special responsibility to the many Afghans who, over the years, have at great risk to themselves and even to their families…have assisted the U.S. in our efforts in Afghanistan.” He also mentioned that they are continuously seeking ways to improve the SIV process while still ensuring the integrity of the program, safeguarding national security and affording opportunities to these Afghans.
The normal rate of processing takes an average of more than 800 days, but the existing plan is to make the withdrawal in less than 100 days. As it stands, more than 18,000 applicants are in need of visas before the withdrawal.