An estimated 18,000 Afghan translators/interpreters and their families who have aided the U.S. military and government with translation services await pending Special Immigrant Visas. With the September 2021 deadline looming for the United States to withdraw American troops, pleas for visas to be issued quickly have been renewed.
Many such Afghans fear for their lives. The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) wrote to President Biden to urge him to “evacuate Afghan wartime allies who have already applied for the Special Immigrant Visa [SIV] program and their families to American territory.” According to LIRS, “[s]ince 2002, the U.S. government has employed Afghan allies to serve alongside U.S. troops, diplomats, and other government employees as translators, interpreters, cultural advisors, or support staff.” In recognition of the peril they face, LIRS noted, Congress enacted the Afghan SIV program in 2009 and “mandated that visa applications be processed within nine months.” The American Legion has also pleaded their case to the Biden administration and Congress.
- “Family of Slain Afghan U.S. Military Interpreter Headed to Houston After 10-Year Visa Delay,” Houston Public Media, May 14, 2021
- “Thousands of Afghans and Iraqis Are Under Threat for Helping Americans. Now They Hope Biden Will Help Them Resettle in the United States,” Washington Post, Dec. 30, 2020
- S. Veterans Scramble to Help Interpreters Left Behind,” American Legion, Apr. 29, 2021
- “Review of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program,” Office of Inspector General, Dept. of State, June 2020
- “Recommendations to Provide Humanitarian Protections for Certain Afghan Civilians,” LIRS, May 12, 2021