In this National Action Alert, I’d like to update you on recent developments in connection with the Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV).
Last week, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) sparked concerns among advocates for the Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programs. He proposed harmful amendments to a defense bill that would terminate these life-saving programs in less than a year.
The current Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, or S. 1197) improves these programs by including Iraqis and Afghans who worked for U.S. media and nonprofit groups, expediting the approval process, and extending the programs for almost another year. If passed, Senator Sessions’s harmful amendments would prevent the extension of both the Iraqi and Afghan programs, allowing them to expire on December 30, 2013 and September 30, 2014, respectively, and leaving many eligible Iraqis and Afghans without a way to seek safety in the United States.
In a previous post on these programs, we highlighted the story of Janis Shenwary, an Afghan man who risked his life by working as a translator for U.S. troops and recently received an Afghan SIV. People like Janis who stood to welcome us in their home countries and whose own lives and the lives of their families are in danger as a result of their service deserve a lifeline to seek safety and start new lives here.
As a nation, we made a promise to these people that we would protect them for their service, and we have a duty to fulfill that promise. Call your representative through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and let him or her know that people of faith stand for the extension of these critical programs. You can also take action online through the LIRS Action Center.