The United States is evacuating thousands of Afghans and their families for fear of retaliation from the Taliban.
The United States House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming majority on Thursday to authorize 8,000 special visas for Afghans who served the United States during the occupation of Afghanistan, which ends after 20 years.
The bill, which is now going to the United States Senate, would extend eligibility for special visas to families of Afghans who were killed while working for the United States and to employees of non-governmental organizations.
The Taliban are threatening to seize Afghanistan after the departure of US and NATO forces at the end of August and have won battlefield advances in half the country, seizing them. local districts and major border crossings amid slow peace talks.
In “Operation Allies Refuge”, the US government is plans to evacuate up to 20,000 Afghan interpreters, contractors, and security personnel with their families in the United States, starting with approximately 2,500 Afghans and their family members who are to be airlifted to Fort Lee, a U.S. Army base in the ‘State of Virginia. Thousands more are awaiting evacuation to US bases in third countries as their immigration applications are processed.
The House bill was sponsored by Rep. Jason Crow, a Democrat and former U.S. Army ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and garnered broad support from Democrats and Republicans, with a vote of 407 against 16.
As we withdraw from Afghanistan, we must do justice to our Afghan partners who have served alongside us.
Today we took action, led by @RepJasonCrow, to expand the visa program and ensure that our Afghan partners can be evacuated safely.
Their life depends on our ability to keep our promises.
– Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) July 22, 2021
A coalition of more than 20 US news agencies sent letters to President Joe Biden and Congress demanding safe passage out of Afghanistan for Afghans who have worked with the US media as journalists, interpreters and support staff.
Now that US troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, these individuals “fear retaliation from the Taliban for courageously associating with the US press,” according to media letters.
“They and their families face the same threat of retaliation from the Taliban” as the Afghans who worked for the US military and government agencies.
The Taliban “see the American press as a legitimate target” and “have a long campaign of threats and killings of journalists,” the letters said, according to the News Media Alliance.
With the support of President Biden, a bipartisan group in the US Senate is preparing similar legislation to expand the US visa quota for Afghans and relax administrative requirements to speed up the program.
“The deterioration of conditions in Afghanistan is alarming and underscores how precarious the situation is for those most vulnerable to Taliban violence and oppression,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a leading Democrat, in a July 19 statement in support of pending legislation.
Top U.S. Army officer Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the Pentagon on July 21 that armed Taliban fighters appeared to have won “Strategic momentum” against Western-backed government forces in Kabul.
“What they’re trying to do is isolate major population centers, ”Milley said.