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Courtney Joins Bipartisan Coalition in Support of Afghan Interpreters, Co-Sponsors New Legislation to Expedite Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Process

June 21, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) became one of the first co-sponsors of the bipartisan Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act (H.R. 3985), a bill designed to protect America’s Afghan partners and expedite the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan. The ALLIES Act was introduced last week by Rep. Jason Crow (CO-04), and is co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of 24 other members of Congress.

The Afghan SIV Program was created in 2009 to provide safety for Afghan interpreters, contractors, and security personnel who worked with the U.S. government in Afghanistan. The application process has been plagued by delays since the program was established and faces severe backlogs, with wait times routinely stretching for years. Since the Biden Administration announced its plans to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, Rep. Courtney has joined members of Congress on both sides of the aisle in calling on the Administration to expedite this visa process, as Afghan SIV applicants and their families are increasingly under threat by the Taliban.

The ALLIES Act would increase the Afghan SIV cap by an additional 8,000 visas and remove burdensome application requirements that slow down the application process without impacting national security.

“The local translators and contractors who work alongside our troops in Afghanistan are absolutely essential to the safety and success of our men and women in unform,” said Congressman Courtney. “Make no mistake: our national security and the American servicemembers we rely on to protect it would be in peril without the support of these local Afghan citizens, and their decision to support our cause was one of great bravery. They performed this service at great risk to themselves and their families, and they did it with the understanding that America would stand by them in mutual support. Now, as national security priorities continue to shift and as our involvement in Afghanistan comes to a close, it’s time to honor our promises and protect our Afghan partners. I’m proud to join Rep. Crow and our colleagues from both sides of the aisle in support of the ALLIES Act.”

Specifically, the ALLIES Act would:

  • Increase the Afghan SIV cap by an additional 8,000 visas;
  • Remove the requirement for a “credible sworn statement” regarding the threat applicants face for having worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government, since both public and clandestine reporting confirm that Afghans who have worked for the U.S. face heightened risk of retribution from the Taliban. 
  • Remove the requirement for International Security Assistance Force or Resolute Support employment to be “sensitive and trusted”, expanding the field of qualified applicants.

For the bill text of the ALLIES Act, click here.

The ALLIES Act was introduced by Rep. Jason Crow, and is co-sponsored by Rep. Courtney, and by Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Mike Waltz (R-FL), Don Bacon (R-NE), Michael San Nicholas (D-Guam), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Peter Meijer (R-MI), Ami Bera (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VM), Jim Baird (R-IN), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Neal Dunn (FL-02), Tom Malinowski (D-FL), Conor Lamb (D-PA),  Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-WA), Van Taylor (R-TX), and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH).