Continuing their efforts to support Afghan allies who served alongside the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a veteran of the Global War on Terror and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) are leading a bipartisan letter — with the support of 53 of their colleagues — calling on the Biden Administration to address the quickly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan that threatens the lives of tens of thousands of Afghan partners. The letter marks the latest Congressional response to the Taliban’s takeover and the danger posed to Afghan allies who served alongside the U.S. mission.
In a letter to President Biden, the senators write, “The Taliban’s rapid ascendancy across Afghanistan and takeover of Kabul should not cause us to break our promise to the Afghans who helped us operate over the past twenty years and are counting on us for assistance. American inaction would ensure they become refugees or prime targets for Taliban retribution.”
They go on to say, “Specifically, we urge continued coordination between the Departments of State and Defense to secure and hold Hamid Karzai International Airport, including to allow for the continuation of military flights and the resumption of commercial and charter flights. We also urge your Administration to assist with the passage of individuals to the airport to safety – both those within Kabul and those outside of the capital – as well as to consider cases where Afghans fleeing quickly may not have been able to collect or gather appropriate documents. We were pleased that you immediately signed [our]…legislation to make extensive improvements to the SIV program into law three weeks ago, and now ask that you move just as quickly to ensure it is properly and fully implemented ensuring applicants and their families can get out of harm’s way.”
In May, Ernst and Shaheen led a bipartisan effort to express widespread support in the Senate for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Afghans, and to urge continued support from the administration to uphold the integrity of the program.
Last month, Ernst and Shaheen’s bipartisan bill to provide immediate improvements to and strengthen the efficiency of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program was signed into law.
Earlier this month, Ernst joined fellow veterans at Fort Lee to visit with Afghan civilians who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.