U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today joined XX of his colleagues to urge the Biden Administration to prioritize the safety and security of the nation’s allies in Afghanistan. As President Biden moves to withdraw all United States troops from the region as early as this fall, many of the Afghan civilians who worked alongside them as interpreters, and their families, are facing persistent threats from the Taliban as a result of their service.
“During my time in Afghanistan, I worked alongside these interpreters every day and they were essential in accomplishing our mission,” Mast said. “This is about keeping our promises to them, but it’s also about ensuring that the global community knows we live up to our word. Soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines rely on local partners, and without their confidence, the ability to defend America and promote democracy gets that much harder.”
The letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas calls on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program to ensure its effective operations. Specifically, it urges DHS to make processing all pending applications a top priority, to provide economic assistance for travel out of Afghanistan, and to address processing delays.
To date, there are over 18,000 applications awaiting processing. While the law requires them to be processed within nine months, current wait times span years.
“This is a case where red tape is literally life threatening,” Mast continued. “The longer DHS delays, the longer our allies, and their families, are in danger. We say ‘no man left behind,’ and the Biden Administration needs to fulfill that promise.”
The full text of the letter is available here.