The House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to allow the entry of thousands more Afghans who worked alongside the Americans in the war in Afghanistan, citing the urgency to protect those allies on the ground from Taliban retaliation as the US military withdrawal is entering its final weeks.
Florida Republican and Vietnam War veteran Neal Dunn spoke of scenes of the US military withdrawal from Vietnam, which left many Vietnamese who had worked with US forces fearing – and sometimes encountering – death and detention .
“We can’t start over. We don’t have to start over. We need to bring back… all the people who were so important to us in the fight, ”Neal said, urging his fellow lawmakers to vote for the bill. “Please don’t abandon the friends of America anymore.”
The House passed it 407-16, sending it to the Senate. The bill, drafted by Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat and former Army Ranger who fought in Afghanistan, authorizes 8,000 additional visas for translators and others who have worked with American troops and civilians in Afghanistan. It also relaxes some visa requirements.
Currently, 26,500 special Afghan visas are issued.
President Joe Biden decreed the end of the US military role in Afghanistan by September 11, concluding a US military effort that quickly succeeded in achieving its primary goal of crushing Afghanistan-based al-Qaida plotters from the attacks. 2001 against the United States, but fought to suppress the former Taliban rulers in Afghanistan and stabilize an elected government based in Kabul.
The Pentagon has said the US withdrawal is 95% complete and will be complete by Aug.31.
The latest weeks of withdrawal leave the Taliban seemingly in “strategic momentum” in the fight for control of Afghanistan as they exert increasing pressure on key cities, Army General Mark Milley, president said on Wednesday. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Biden administration says there are 20,000 applicants so far, half of whom have not completed the initial visa review stages. The United States also allows former Afghan employees to bring in close family members.