Two more immigration bills will soon be on the House floor, both addressing the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program – not the crisis at our own border. It is a bipartisan effort in response to reports that intelligence agencies believe the Afghan government could fall as soon as six months after we formally withdraw from the country, leaving those who aided U.S. military forces – interpreters, intelligence sources, etc. – in significant danger.
First, the Honoring Our Promises through Expedition (HOPE) for Afghan SIVs Act (H.R. 3385) would allow the Biden Administration to waive the requirement that Afghan SIV applicants to undergo a medical examination while in Afghanistan. Many have cited this requirement, which can cost thousands of dollars, as a serious delay in the process. There is supposedly only one facility in Kabul that conducts all immigrant visa examinations for the entire country, forcing applicants from the outer provinces to travel to Kabul.
Second, the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act (H.R. 3985) includes several provisions to “streamline and strengthen” the Afghan SIV program – their words, not mine. It provides a one-time 8,000-visa increase to the Afghan SIV cap in order to cover all potentially eligible applicants currently in the pipeline, as well as new applicants as they apply. It also troublingly removes the requirement for a “credible sworn statement” regarding threats an applicant faces for work for or on behalf of the U.S. Government.
It is understandable why the current situation has elicited a sympathetic response from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle: How can we leave these those who helped us hanging? The problem is, as sweeping fraud in the parallel Iraqi SIV program makes evident, almost nothing is as it seems in either of those war-torn nations, and proper vetting can take years because even people who appear to be on the same side as you may not, in fact, be who and what they seem. Therefore, the last thing we should be doing on the SIV front is “streamlining,” which is equivalent to “accelerating” in the immigration world.
Lastly, consider how the Biden administration is currently operating when it comes to immigration. Can they be trusted to properly vet, not rubber-stamp every applicant of a risky immigration program? Their actions all across the system say otherwise.