14 April, 2021

The US Must Help Afghans Who Helped It


This is not an argument for staying militarily or for withdrawing U.S. troops. Rather, what happens to the many Afghans who helped us over the last 20 years and continue to aspire to build a freer, more pluralistic Afghanistan, if U.S. and NATO forces leave without a sustainable peace settlement?

For two decades, tens of thousands of Afghans worked directly for or supported the U.S. military and civilian presence. In 2009, Congress created a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to permit a narrow subset of that group to immigrate to the United States. But the process has been slow and difficult to implement. Only a little over 18,000 of these applications have been approved over the last decade. Today, there are another 18,000 SIV applications waiting to be processed.