President Joe Biden wants to move Afghans who served the United States out of danger as soon as possible.
The administration needs to send interpreters and others who helped the American military to other countries while it processes their applications for immigration. Intelligence agencies have said the Afghan government could collapse within six months after the U.S. withdraws after 20 years. This will leave those who worked with the U.S. in significant danger, according to The Hill.
There is significant pressure on the Biden administration from Congress to evacuate Afghans who are waiting for their Special Immigrant Visa applications to be processed.
"We have identified a group of SIV applicants who have served as interpreters and translators to be reallocated to another location outside of Afghanistan before we complete our military drawdown by September, in order to complete the visa application process," a senior administration official to The Hill. "These are individuals who are already in the SIV pipeline. The official added that any reallocation will be done "in full compliance with U.S. consular law and in full coordination with Congress."
The visa processing will take place at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the administration is working with Congress to streamline the application process, including eliminating duplicative paperwork. "We are planning for all contingencies, so that we are prepared for all scenarios," the administration official said. "Should it become necessary, we will consider additional relocation or evacuation options."
It can take up to 800 days for the State Department to process this type of visa and the SIV program has been plagued by long delays. Now there is a sense of urgency after Biden ordered a full withdrawal from Afghanistan.
About 18,000 interpreters, security guards and Afghan embassy personnel are waiting for assistance through this program. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told a group of reporters on Wednesday that about 9,000 are just beginning the process. Applications have been filed for about 53,000 family members.
"We have 20,000 allies who stand in need of help, and we cannot leave them to the tender mercies of the Taliban," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., to a group of reporters on Wednesday.
It has not been determined where the Afghans will be sent but some have suggested the U.S. Territory of Guam.
Many Afghans believe that once the U.S. leaves, the Taliban will attack those who helped the U.S. "You will see the dead bodies in every street," said Omid Mahmoodi, who worked as an interpreter and cultural advisor with the U.S. military. "They will slaughter us," according to USA Today.
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