Advocacy letter August 19, 2021
Afghanistan: Experts Urge US to Save Our Allies
Hundreds of national security and foreign policy leaders, former elected officials, humanitarian workers, and human rights experts signed a letter drafted by the Truman National Security Project urging President Biden and the US Congress to get our Afghan allies to safety ahead of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Save Our Allies: A Letter to President Biden
To the Biden Administration and Members of Congress:
We write with an urgent appeal to save our Afghan allies who we have depended on and whose lives now depend on us. As national security and human rights experts who have served as diplomats, humanitarians, frontline civilians, elected officials, and in uniform, we implore you to use every power vested in your offices to act.
With the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan scheduled to be completed by August 31, the thousands of Afghans who risked their lives to build a better country and protect our forces face imminent and profound risk. They are journalists, activists, academics, and colleagues to U.S. and foreign government officials. These are the people who share our democratic values--the values we urged them to believe in and promised to support them in striving for.
Congress took action more than 15 years ago to address the dangers faced by Afghan nationals assisting the U.S. government by creating the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). Since then, Congress has increased the number of SIVs available numerous times with overwhelming bipartisan support. With each bill’s passage, the message has been clear: America stands by our commitment to protect and support those who protect and support us. After calls from civil society to extend refugee protections to expanded categories of at-risk Afghans, the Administration created a Priority 2 (P-2) designation for the purpose. The P-2 process is arduous and slow and requires that Afghans first travel to a third country which remains a nearly insurmountable hurdle without more direct U.S. support.
The processes currently available to Afghans at risk are insufficient to meet the moment.
Thousands of Americans are working around the clock to organize and self-fund efforts to get Afghans to safety. There is a shrinking window for the U.S. to act and still save lives. We are calling on the Biden Administration and Congress to immediately:
- Evacuate the most vulnerable Afghans regardless of their immigration status and ensure that both U.S. and other allied military and charter and commercial flights are permitted to fly and that such flights leave at full capacity. No flight out of Kabul should have empty seats.
- Direct U.S. forces to extend this mission until all of the most vulnerable Afghans are safely out of the country, past August 31 if needed.
- Lead a diplomatic effort with allies and actors on the ground to ensure that roads to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and other points of exit around the country remain safe and free of restrictions, and that the airport itself remains secure and operational for the duration of these efforts.
- Make airport protocols clear, coordinated, and as streamlined as possible so that evacuees can efficiently board flights after they have arrived at the airport. Ensure that the lists of accepted forms of documentation and identification needed to enter the airport, pass through security, and board flights are as expansive as possible. The U.S. should further coordinate airport protocols and evacuee lists with other nations staging evacuations.
- Expand, supplement, and streamline the admission of at-risk Afghan refugees, including by expanding P-2 eligibility, creating a category of humanitarian parole to admit vulnerable Afghans, and evacuating Afghans who qualify for P-2 but lack the means to travel to a third country, working with those third countries to speed refugee processing.
- Lead a diplomatic effort and surge funding to partner governments willing to keep borders open and welcome at-risk Afghans.
The U.S. still has time to save tens of thousands of Afghans whose lives are at risk because of the support and protection they gave to us. But it must act now. Failure to do so will leave a permanent stain on our global credibility and our collective conscience.
The full list of current signers is available here: https://bit.ly/37W8otH
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