4,000 more visas granted for Afghans who supported US-led coalition

SIV-for-Afghan-translatorsKABUL: At least 4,000 more visas have been granted to the Afghans who have supported the US-led coalition in Afghanistan in a bid to help relocate those who are in fear of persecution.

The decision to grant more visas to the Afghans was taken by a Senate panel, Appropriations Committee on Wednesday with the members of the panel unanimously voting for the decision.

The voting was 30 in favor of 0 to approve a foreign operations spending bill that includes a provision granting the extra visas and extending the so-called special immigrant visa program for another year.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., pushed for the program to be continued, telling her colleagues that many Americans who served in Afghanistan are alive today because of the support they received from Afghans willing to put themselves in danger.

“If Congress fails to extend this program, this could be a death sentence for many Afghans who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our military and diplomats,” she was quoted as saying in a report by ABC News.

Shaheen and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had sought earlier this month to extend and expand the visa program by adding an amendment to the annual defense policy bill. But a procedural dispute prevented most amendments from being debated and included in the legislation.

This comes as the the Senate Armed Services Committee opposed to extend or authorizing new visa for the Afghan Special Immigration Visa Program.

The United States Department of State expressed concerns regarding the decision by the Senate Armed Services Committee for not extending or authorizing new visa for the Afghan Special Immigration Visa Program.

A spokesperson for the State Department, John Kirby, told reporters in mid-May “I do want to note that the department’s disappointed that the Senate Armed Services Committee did not extend or authorize new visas for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program.”

He said the SIV program enables Afghans who have worked alongside our troops and our diplomats to seek refuge in the United States. -KP

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