Jul 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

House votes to allow more Afghans who assisted U.S. to evacuate before withdrawal

An Afghan interpreter with the U.S. Army's 4th squadron 2d Cavalry Regiment helps to question a village

An Afghan interpreter with the U.S. Army helps to question a villager near Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2014. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The House on Thursday voted to expand a visa program that would allow more Afghans who helped the U.S. military quickly immigrate to the United States, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Last month, the Biden administration made plans to evacuate many of the Afghans who worked with the U.S. military before completing the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. These individuals and their families face threats of retaliation from the Taliban because of their service to the U.S. military.

Details: The bill, which would expand the special visa program from 11,000 to 19,000, passed by a vote of 407 to 16.

  • The legislation further broadens who is eligible for the program, removing some application requirements.
  • For example, applicants will no longer need to provide a sworn statement that they faced threats or worked a "sensitive job" with the U.S. military, per the NYT.

What they're saying: "Many of us have expressed grave concerns about the challenges our allies face in navigating the application process," Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D- Calif.) said.

  • "They will be killed if we don’t get them out of there," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said. "Please, Mr. President, get them out before they are killed."

What to watch: The bill still faces a vote in the Senate.

Go deeper: U.S. to evacuate some Afghans who helped troops before withdrawal

Go deeper