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Bipartisan group of senators calls for special fast-track visa category for Afghan women leaders

Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, James Inhofe and Bill Cassidy join numerous Democrats

Eric Garcia
Washington DC
Tuesday 17 August 2021 20:29 BST
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A group of US senators have sent a letter to leaders in the Biden administration asking for the creation of a special category for Afghans trying to escape the country.

Of the 46 Senators who signed the letter, 43 are members of the Democratic caucus and three are Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also signed the letter, while Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and James Inhofe of Oklahoma were the Republicans.

The letter was addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and called for the creation of a “humanitarian parole category,” specifically for women leaders, activists, human rights defenders, judges, parliamentarians, journalists and members of the Female Tactical Platoon of Afghan Security Forces.

“The shocking violence and alleged atrocities occurring have caused mass displacement which, during a global pandemic and severe drought, has created a major humanitarian crisis,” the letter said.

The letter also called for streamlining the paperwork process to facilitate referrals “to allow for fast, humane, and efficient relocation to the United States.

“We urge you to increase processing capacity within US Citizenship and Immigration Services and immediately appoint an interagency refugee coordinator,” the senators wrote.

The letter comes after the Taliban captured the capital city of Kabul amid the United States’ plans to end its combat mission in the nation.

Other Republican members of Congress have called for the swift transfer of refugees to the United States. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said the Biden administration should facilitate a humanitarian evacuation to Kuwait.

“Damn the red tape, and get people on planes to safety right now,” he said. “We can get folks out of hell and into Kuwait where we have the capacity to sort them out. The Biden Administration is making our people show paperwork to get evacuated, but those papers are a death sentence if the Taliban finds them.”

Sen Joni Ernst of Iowa, a veteran herself, said on CNN that the United States needed to expedite the special immigrant visa program for Afghans.

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