Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) sent a letter to President Biden regarding his deep concern for the fates of thousands of Afghan partners who assisted the United States Armed Forces in Afghanistan with interpreting and translating services.
Specifically, Congressman Emmer asked for the safe evacuation of Afghan interpreters, translators, and their families through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process, and for details to be released regarding the evacuation process. As American troops exit, Afghan individuals who assisted them are in danger from the Taliban.
“As American troops are safely evacuated from Afghanistan, we must not forget our Afghan partners who took on immense risk by assisting the American peace effort in the Middle East. Currently, there is a backlog to the evacuation process through the Special Immigrant Visa program, and I have heard firsthand from constituents who have relatives experiencing these terrifying delays. These individuals who assisted our servicemembers put themselves in great danger, and undoubtedly saved American lives. It is time we repay their service and ensure their new lives can begin in America," said Emmer.
On April 14, 2021, President Joe Biden formally announced his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. During the twenty-year presence of American troops in Afghanistan, American soldiers have relied on Afghan interpreters and translators for assistance.
On July 8, 2021, President Joe Biden stated during a press conference that “starting this month, we’re going to begin relocation flights for Afghanistan SIV applicants and their families who choose to leave.” However, no concrete plan of action was developed to ensure their safe evacuation.
In Congressman Emmer's letter, he asked for answers to three specific questions: Who among our Afghan partners will qualify for an evacuation? Where will they be evacuated to? Who will lead on-the-ground evacuation operations?
Currently, according to the National Immigration Forum, nearly 18,000 applicants remain in the Special Immigrant Visa backlog, with another 5,000 waiting for initial action.
Read Congressman Emmer's letter here.