HIAS Applauds U.S. Congressional Action to Help Afghans
Jul 29, 2021
HIAS applauds the passage of the emergency security supplemental bill today by the Senate and the House, which includes funding for Afghan refugee assistance and increased support for Afghan nationals at risk as a result of the U.S. military withdrawal.
The withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan has created the urgent need to strengthen the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program and to provide critical humanitarian assistance to thousands of Afghans who are expected to be displaced in the coming months. The bill secures 8,000 additional Afghan SIVs, and includes new reforms to the program to improve efficiency.
“HIAS is especially grateful to U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy, Richard Shelby, and Jeanne Shaheen and all those who acted swiftly to provide resources to both Afghan refugees and those partners who will assist them,” said Elizabeth Mandelman, HIAS’ senior director of policy and advocacy. Mandelman noted the work of U.S. representatives Steny Hoyer, Jason Crow, Seth Moulton and Rosa DeLauro as well.
Included in the bill is $1.125 billion for Afghan refugee assistance, $100 million of which is allocated to the State Department to provide assistance for Afghan refugees in neighboring countries and for other humanitarian needs in Afghanistan. The United Nations estimates that 500,000 Afghans will flee their homes in the coming months.
The bill also provides $25 million to the Department of Health and Human Services for assistance to Afghan SIVs to support transitional financial, medical, and social services to help them resettle in the United States. Additionally, the bill gives SIV status for certain surviving family members of murdered applicants, which could potentially save hundreds of lives.
“Afghans are already the third largest refugee population in the world and displacement is expected to increase,” said Mark Hetfield, HIAS’ President and CEO. “HIAS calls on the administration to employ all available pathways within and beyond the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to provide protection and to work with the international community to increase support for life-saving humanitarian assistance.”