Video/Photos: Kaine Welcomes First Group of Afghan SIV Applicants to Fort Lee
Afghan Civilians Escaped Dangers Faced For Serving America in Afghanistan War
For photos of the press conference, click here
For video of Kaine’s remarks, click here
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), held a press conference with VoteVets, a national veterans group, to welcome the first group of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program applicants and their families, who landed at Dulles this morning and are now at Fort Lee to begin their transition to life in the U.S. During the event, Kaine and VoteVets’ Will Fischer highlighted the importance of bringing Afghan civilians who aided our military to safety in the United States as the war in Afghanistan draws to a close. They spoke about the pride Virginia feels in the Department of Defense (DOD) choosing Fort Lee as one of the first places the interpreters will arrive to as they complete their State Department vetting process.
“We feel particularly supportive and proud that Virginia can be the initial place of touching soil in the United States as these Afghan interpreters and their family members begin a next chapter of opportunity in this country,” said Senator Kaine. “Just as waves of immigrants before have enriched our nation, these Afghans have already contributed to our nation and will continue to. I applaud my colleagues in the Senate and House who in a bipartisan way acted promptly to make this happen. It’s great to work together with the Pentagon and Department of State to facilitate this.”
Kaine also applauded Senate passage yesterday of the $2.1 billion supplemental security spending package, which included $1.125 billion for Afghan refugee assistance and other key parts of the bipartisan Afghan Allies Protection Act, legislation Kaine cosponsored to help protect the Afghan civilians who risked their lives to support the U.S. mission. The legislation would provide immediate improvements to and strengthen the efficiency of the SIV program by:
- Increasing the number of authorized visas;
- Changing the employment requirement for eligibility from two years to one year;
- Postponing the required medical exam until the applicant and their family have arrived in the United States;
- Removing the requirement for a credible sworn statement regarding the threat an applicant faces;
- Removing the “sensitive and trusted” requirement for International Security Assistance Force and Resolute Support employment; and
- Providing for Special Immigrant status for certain surviving spouses and children of murdered applicants.
Full text of the legislation is available here.
Earlier this month, Kaine applauded the DOD’s recommendation for Fort Lee in Virginia to temporarily host the first group of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program applicants.