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Senators introduce bill to improve visa program to protect Afghan interpreters who helped US

June 11, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

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MIAN POSHTEH, AFGHANISTAN - JULY 6: A U.S. Marine (C) from 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, RCT 2nd Battalion 8th Marines Echo Co. talks through his interpreter (L) to an Afghan man during a patrol on July 6, 2009 in Mian Poshteh, Afghanistan. The Marines are part of Operation Khanjari, which was launched to combat Taliban fighters using areas in the Southern Helmand Province as resupply routes, and to help the local Afghan population prepare for the upcoming presidential elections. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation aimed at improving the Afghan special immigrant visa (SIV) program amid a growing push from lawmakers, veterans and advocates to ensure that Afghan interpreters and others who helped the United States are protected once US troops fully withdraw from Afghanistan.

Washington (CNN)A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation aimed at improving the Afghan special immigrant visa (SIV) program amid a growing push from lawmakers, veterans and advocates to ensure that Afghan interpreters and others who helped the United States are protected once US troops fully withdraw from Afghanistan.

"This legislation would make important updates to the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program to help more vulnerable aides and their families escape before it is too late," he said.

"In acknowledgment of the threats they face in aiding the US, we must extend and expand the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program in order to ensure their safety and the safety of their families," said Durbin, an Illinois Democrat.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said last week that the department had increased staff in Washington to process Afghan SIV applications and has "approved a temporary increase in consular staffing in our embassy in Kabul to conduct interviews and to process visa applications. " However, the US Embassy in Kabul announced Friday it is suspending all visa operations effective Sunday due to a Covid outbreak in Afghanistan.

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