Dec 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Former military leaders call on Congress to help Afghan refugees

Afghan refugees sit outdoors while living at U.S. Air Force base.

Afghan children are seen in a recreation area in an Afghan refugee camp on Nov. 4, 2021, at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

More than two dozen former U.S. military leaders, including 11 retired generals and admirals, called on Congress to include legislation in the must-pass omnibus spending bill to help Afghan refugees that were evacuated during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Why it matters: The legislation, the Afghan Adjustment Act, would provide quicker pathways to permanent status for Afghan allies who are already in the U.S. but risk deportation back to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

  • The military leaders said in a letter to congressional leaders organized by the AfghanEvac Coalition that the legislation should be included in the spending bill that must be passed before Dec. 23 to avoid a government shutdown.

What they're saying: The military leaders, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Admiral Jim Stavridis, said they believe passing legislation is necessary "our country’s binding commitments, too often sealed in blood, that were made to men and women who joined us" during the Afghanistan War.

  • "We are convinced that the Afghan Adjustment Act furthers the national security interests of the United States. It is also a moral imperative. Congress must act now and include the Afghan Adjustment Act and related provisions in the FY2023 Omnibus," the letter reads.
  • "If Congress fails to enact the AAA, the United States will be less secure. As military professionals, it was and remains our duty to prepare for future conflicts. We assure you that in any such conflict, potential allies will remember what happens now with our Afghan allies."
  • "If we claim to support the troops and want to enable their success in wartime, we must keep our commitments today. The AAA will go a long way."

The big picture: Those evacuated during the withdrawal included people or family members of people who helped the U.S. government during the war.

  • Evacuees were given temporary permission to live and work in the U.S., but the exemption is set to expire next year.
  • Many families were separated during the withdrawal, and the Biden administration began developing a portal earlier this year to simplify the reunification process for Afghan families.

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