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Bipartisan lawmakers press Biden to 'immediately' evacuate Afghans who helped US forces

Bipartisan lawmakers press Biden to 'immediately' evacuate Afghans who helped US forces
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Friday urged the Biden administration to “immediately” evacuate Afghan citizens who helped U.S. forces before the military's withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

The lawmakers said they are “increasingly concerned” that the administration has not helped the Afghans, who would almost certainly face punishment from the Taliban once the U.S. military leaves. And while the U.S. is processing special immigrant visa (SIV) applications, the bipartisan group said that process is too slow as the U.S. withdrawal moves ahead of schedule.

“We appreciate the complexity of ending the War in Afghanistan, but we are increasingly concerned that you have not yet directed the Department of Defense be mobilized as part of a concrete and workable whole of government plan to protect our Afghan partners,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to President BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE, which was spearheaded by Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonHigh-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress Bipartisan lawmakers press Biden to 'immediately' evacuate Afghans who helped US forces Gosar is the Republican that Democrats want to avoid MORE (D-Mass.), himself a combat veteran.

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“It would be a moral failure to transfer the responsibility to protect our Afghan partners onto the shoulders of the Afghan Government,” they added. “If we fail to protect our allies in Afghanistan, it will have a lasting impact on our future partnerships and global reputation, which will then be a great detriment to our troops and the future of our national security.”

The Biden administration has said that it is implementing changes to expedite the processing of SIV applications; however, the lawmakers noted that the sheer quantity of the applications that need to be processed mandates that further action be taken. 

The group noted that the withdrawal is expected to be completed in under 100 days and that the average approval time is 800 days. With 18,000 applications left to be processed, the lawmakers warned that the amount of time the Afghan allies have before they lose their U.S. protection is shrinking.

The lawmakers recommended that the White House form an interagency task force to oversee the evacuations, and proposed that the territory of Guam be used to temporarily house Afghans whose visa applications are not processed before the withdrawal.