Members of the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday (22/7), decided to allow thousands of Afghans who cooperated with America in the Afghanistan war into America. The House considers an urgent need to protect allies on the ground from Taliban retaliation as the US military withdrawal enters its final weeks.
Florida lawmaker, Republican and Vietnam veteran Neal Dunn recalled the US military withdrawal from Vietnam, which frightened many Vietnamese who had worked with American troops and sometimes died and were imprisoned.
“We can’t do this anymore. We can’t do it again. We have to bring back … all the people who were very important to us in battle,” said Neal. He urged his fellow DPR members to vote for the action. “Please don’t forsake America’s friend again,” he said.
Members of the House passed the effort by a vote of 407-16, and sent it to the Senate. The bill, according to lawmaker Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat and former Army Ranger who fought in Afghanistan, allows for more than 8,000 visas to be made available for translators and others working with American troops and civilians in Afghanistan. The bill also eases the requirements for visas.
Currently, 26,500 special Afghan visas have been allocated.
President Joe Biden decided to end the US military’s role in Afghanistan on September 11, ending US military efforts that had previously succeeded in achieving its main goal of destroying the Afghanistan-based al-Qaida plot for carrying out the 2001 attacks on America. But the US has struggled to crush Afghanistan’s former Taliban rulers and stabilize an elected government based in Kabul.
The Pentagon said the US withdrawal was 95% complete and would be fully completed by August 31.
Withdrawals over the past weeks have given the Taliban “strategic momentum” to take control of Afghanistan as they increase pressure on key cities, Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday.
The Biden administration says there have been 20,000 visa applicants so far, half of whom have not completed the initial stages of review for visas. America has also allowed former Afghan employees to bring close family members. [my/jm]