Thousands of desperate people in Afghanistan who want to emigrate to the United States legally face government restrictions and bureaucratic delays that put them at risk.
On Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee approved 60-2 the 2017 Defense spending bill that would abandon thousands of these people who risked their lives, and the lives of their families, to help U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
The U.S. State Department can now approve just 4000 visas for at least 10,000 of these brave men and women who are waiting for America to reach out its hand to them.
Not only does the Defense spending bill now being considered not relax that limit, but it would add restrictions.
The only Afghans who could apply to the program would include interpreters who served with the U.S. military and went “traveling off-base with such personnel or performing sensitive and trust activities for United States military personnel stationed in Afghanistan.”
That language would leave out Afghans who do maintenance or security on U.S. bases as well as those who work at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
“These are people who have put their lives on the line not just for their country, but for ours,” Representative Seth Moulton, (D-Mass) a former Marine Corps officer, said when he introduced an amendment to create additional visas. “The very least we can offer them is a chance to stay alive.”
Moulton’s amendment failed, but the bill has more hoops to go through before coming law.
Going forward, Congress should protect the Afghans who protected our troops.To do otherwise would be a stain on our country’s commitment to justice.