Legion support for Afghan allies ‘absolutely essential’

Legion support for Afghan allies ‘absolutely essential’

For the 118th Congress, 1st Session, The American Legion urges Congress to reintroduce and pass the Afghan Adjustment Act that would grant permanent legal status to Afghan refugees and improve the Special Immigrant Visa process for Afghans who served alongside U.S. servicemembers.

Last year, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced this American Legion-supported bipartisan piece of legislation. He thanked The American Legion for its support in his remarks at the Commander’s Call during the Legion’s Washington Conference Feb. 28.

“However one feels about the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, there can be no denial that we have an obligation to the brave men and women who helped Americans do their job at the risk of their lives,” Blumenauer said. “Thank you for the work that you have done in helping me with the Afghan veterans dealing with visas and helping get more people out of harms way in the Middle East.”

But the task is not over, Blumenauer added. “There are still people trapped in Afghanistan. There are still people trapped in the bureaucracy here to live here safely and securely. The American Legion has been absolutely essential in our bipartisan coalition to be able to meet our responsibilities to those who put their lives on the line to help Americans. It would be shameful for us to turn our back on them. It’s a terrible signal because we always are relying on foreign nationals to help us with our missions. And once they are here, they deserve our best treatment.”

Blumenauer recalled a moment that he wished was recorded “to make sure our legislation is met.” He was at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with an Afghan interpreter who was there to meet his wife and three children “who escaped certain death from the Taliban.” Also there was an American captain “who wouldn’t give up on his Afghan partner. Very emotional. These are things that demonstrate the greatness of America that we’re not going to leave behind people who put their lives on the line for us. Maybe they weren’t American citizens, but they relied on American promises to give American assistance.

“I want to thank you for the partnership for these two pieces (Afghan Adjustment Act and Afghan Allies Protection Act) of legislation. The Legion support is absolutely essential.”