16 Republicans voted against visas for Afghans who helped US including Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene

GOP members who voted against giving visas to Afghan interpreters suddenly have a lot to say about the US withdrawal

Bevan Hurley
In New York
Wednesday 18 August 2021 20:39
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Crowd outside Kabul airport sprayed with green smoke

Republican lawmakers who voted against granting visas to 8,000 Afghans who supported the United States’ war effort against the Taliban are facing renewed criticism.

Last month, the House of Representatives gave near-unanimous support to allow the interpreters and contractors who worked with the US military be allowed to relocate under the Special Immigrant Visa programme.

The resolution, introduced by Democratic Congressman Jason Crow, passed by 407 votes to 16.

Those who voted against were all Republicans, and included far-right members Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Mr Crow, himself an Afghanistan combat veteran, said he owed his life to Afghans who had fought alongside US troops as the bill passed on 22 July.

“Some members of this body, including me, may not be here today without the service and self-sacrifice of Afghans who answered the call to serve shoulder to shoulder with us,” he said.

This week Mr Crow called out Ms Boebert, one of 16 Republicans who voted against the bill, over her criticism of the chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

“Wait a minute. A few weeks ago you were 1 of only 16 members of Congress who voted against my bill to expand and speed up the visa program to evacuate and save our Afghan partners.”

Ms Boebert responded to say she didn’t vote for the bill because amendments weren’t allowed.

“We could’ve fixed problems like reduced qualification standards and added anti-fraud measures to prevent what happened in the Iraqi program.”

Only around  2,000 Afghans with Special Immigrant Visas have arrived in the United States since evacuation flights began in July.

The US has said it wants to relocate as many as 30,000 Afghans who are in the special immigrant visa application process.

The visa programme was effectively brought to a halt under the Trump administration, as part of a broader policy of reducing legal immigration.

In 2019, a federal judge ruled that the US government had broken the law by failing to resolve visa applications for thousands of Afghans and Iraqis who worked for American troops and diplomats.

Mr Crow’s HR 3985 resolution would expand eligibility to include family members of Afghans who have been killed. The bill must now pass the Senate for it to become law.

Tens of thousands of Afghans who contributed to the US’ 20-year occupation of Afghanistan are trying to leave the country over fears of persecution by the Taliban.

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