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Blumenthal Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Visa Program for Afghan Interpreters, Support Staff

Legislation would authorize 4,000 additional visas for the next fiscal year

(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal joined U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in introducing bipartisan legislation to further extend the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program (SIV), which allows Afghans who have supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States. Blumenthal and Shaheen’s legislation authorizes 4,000 additional visas for the next fiscal year and takes additional steps to strengthen Afghan SIV processing and vetting.

“This bill would strengthen and expand the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program--- giving brave Afghans and their families the opportunity to come to the United States after selflessly supporting our military and diplomatic personnel. These men and women put their lives on the line for us, and they are owed safety, security, and freedom from persecution. Congress must act now to keep this critical visa program alive.”

Blumenthal invited Hewad Hemat, an Afghan interpreter and refugee, as his guest to President Trump’s address to Congress in February 2017. Hewad served as an interpreter for the U.S. Army, the American Embassy, and the United Nations in Afghanistan and fled to New Haven after his life and those of his family members were threatened by Taliban terrorists.

Blumenthal and Shaheen’s legislation is cosponsored by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Jack Reed (D-RI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) and can be read here.