Dear American Legion Family members and friends,
After a historic, contentious delay, the U.S. House of Representatives now has a speaker in place and can begin to work on behalf of its constituents. That, of course, means acting upon important pro-veteran legislation that had been stuck.
The new Congress has an opportunity to resolve another quagmire that was left unfinished by the previous session.
At the end of 2022, the 117th Congress extended the Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) program for our Afghanistan allies. They had been ensnared in a complicated immigration system through no fault of their own and faced the expiration of a two-year temporary "humanitarian parole" this summer. Now, with the deadline extended, tens of thousands of Afghans will not have to potentially return to their Taliban-controlled homeland this year.
However, no permanent solution is in place.
The Afghan Adjustment Act, which is a slightly separate issue from extension of SIV program, was not approved. The act streamlines the SIV process, establishes an interagency task force and provides Afghan refugees a pathway to long-term permanent residence status.
The American Legion is calling on the 118th Congress to pass legislation that would provide a pathway to permanent residency for the estimated 80,000 Afghan allies and their family members who fled the country as the United States withdrew in August 2021. Additionally, let’s remember and work toward the up to 160,000 SIV-eligible Afghan allies who still remain trapped in Afghanistan, living under the threat of the Taliban.
We must do better for our Afghan allies who stood with us against the Taliban. We must create a pathway to permanent residency in the United States. We must pass legislation to secure their freedom in return for their assistance in helping our troops.
Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola