May 9 2014
The State Department has dramatically ramped up the approval of resettlement visas for Afghan military interpreters this year under a program that a bipartisan group of lawmakers is seeking to extend and expand. THREE THOUSAND Afghanis worked as interpreters for the military? Does anyone actually believe that?
Washington Post Under a bill that members of the House and Senate plan to introduce Thursday, the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program, which is set to stop receiving applications this fall, would continue to run until the end of 2015 and be open to 3,000 additional petitioners.
The legislation would enable Afghan interpreters who have been approved for resettlement to immigrate with wives, parents, siblings and adult children who can independently demonstrate that they are in danger. Afghans who worked for American news outlets and nongovernmental organizations, as well as those who worked for U.S. troops but were nominally paid for by the international military coalition, also would become eligible for resettlement if the bill becomes law.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) are leading the effort in the Senate. Lawmakers and several U.S. veterans of the Afghan war have assailed the State Department and other agencies involved in processing the visas, saying that the program has been beset by years-long delays, arbitrary rejections and opposition from some senior officials who have argued that the program is accelerating Afghanistan’s brain drain. (Afghan ‘brain drain’ is an oxymoron)
Earlier this year, Congress demanded that the State Department start releasing data each quarter disclosing how many applicants have been rejected, the number of rejections at each step of the process and the reasons for delays in cases that have been in the pipeline for more than nine months.
Additionally, changes to the program codified in the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law in January, now require that the State Department explain in a letter its rationale for each rejection. In the past, after waiting for years, some applicants received bare rejection forms that branded them as security threats. (Maybe they are!)