About two dozen retired senior U.S. military personnel called on congressional leadership late Saturday to pass legislation that would help Afghan refugees become permanent residents.
“We are confident that the Afghanistan Amendment Act serves the national security interests of the United States,” the group wrote in a letter to congressional leadership. “It’s also a moral imperative. Congress must act now.”
Retired military leaders have urged Congress to include the Afghanistan Regulation Act in an omnibus spending bill that must be passed by Dec. 23 to avoid a government shutdown.
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August 2021, just two weeks before the U.S. completed its withdrawal after two decades of war. Afghans flooded the Kabul airport to escape the oppressive regime and eventually, at least 2.7 million According to the United Nations, he left his country. More than 88,000 of those evacuees fled to the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
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The evacuees, including Afghans who helped America fight the Taliban, were given temporary permission to live and work in the US and receive health benefits, but that status will expire next year. The Afghanistan Settlement Act provides stability for many Afghans living in the United States whose service to America forces them to leave their homes.
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“We must honor the promises and commitments we made to our Afghan allies, who have faced so much risk to support our military for more than 20 years,” said Ryan Manion, Gold Star Sister and President of the Travis Manion Foundation. . “Passage of the Afghanistan Amendments Act will serve to preserve our nation’s commitment to our allies and further honor our nation’s military veterans and other Gold Star families who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”
The Afghan Settlement Act allows refugees to apply for permanent resident status in the US, which allows them to avoid deportation and retain work and health care benefits. Otherwise, evacuees must go through other processes, such as applying for asylum, which can take years.
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Former military leaders a A group of retired US ambassadors to Afghanistan, he also called for the legislation to be included in the spending bill.
The bill would help refugees avoid costly legal fees and bypass refugee-related refugee processes. Critics of the legislation have raised security concerns about whether the expedited process would allow for adequate vetting, but supporters argue that many of the Afghan evacuees were US allies and still undergo thorough vetting.
The bipartisan bill has 142 co-sponsors in the House and 5 co-sponsors in the Senate. The next steps are expected before the new Congress.