Chairman Nadler Floor Statement in Support of H.R. 3985, the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act of 2021
Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following statement, as prepared, on the House floor in support of H.R. 3985, the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act of 2021:
"H.R. 3985, the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs Act of 2021—or the ALLIES Act—makes essential changes to the Afghan special immigrant visa program to ensure that the lives of those who served faithfully alongside American troops in Afghanistan are protected.
"The special immigrant visa program allows those individuals who worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Afghanistan, or for the NATO International Security Assistance Force in support of the American mission, to seek lawful permanent residence in the United States.
"To be eligible, applicants must establish qualifying employment in Afghanistan for two years, receive approval from the Chief of Mission, and undergo rigorous background checks and national security vetting—a process that, on average, takes three years.
"Our 20-year mission in Afghanistan will formally come to an end in just a few short weeks. Each day that we continue to draw down our military presence in Afghanistan, threats to the lives of Afghans who supported our cause are increasing exponentially.
"The Biden Administration has committed to relocating certain applicants to a third country. Some who have passed the national security vetting process will be transferred to the United States to complete visa processing.
"These evacuations—which are scheduled to begin at the end of this month—are a critical component of our withdrawal strategy. But evacuations alone are not enough. Congress must do our part to protect those whose lives are at risk because of their support and service to our nation.
"First and foremost, we must ensure that enough visas are available for eligible applicants. H.R. 3985 increases the number of visas that may be issued to qualifying Afghans by 8,000, which would ensure that all qualified applicants who are currently undergoing processing can immediately receive a visa if they are approved.
"Second, we must streamline visa processing to the greatest extent possible, without compromising national security or program integrity.
"H.R. 3985 does this by reducing duplicative paperwork requirements and modifying the requirement that applicants prove the existence of an 'ongoing serious threat' to their lives—to reflect the fact that Afghans who worked in support of the U.S. mission now face an obvious threat as a direct result of their work.
"Third, the bill strengthens protections for certain groups of Afghan nationals, including surviving spouses and children of deceased principal applicants, individuals employed by NATO in support of the U.S. mission, and individuals whose work was funded by a U.S. government cooperative agreement or grant.
"Collectively, these changes will ensure that no one whose lives are at risk because of their support to the American mission are abandoned or forced to wait for Congress to act to authorize more visas.
"I am a proud cosponsor of this important bill. I want to thank Representative Crow for championing the cause of our Afghan allies and working across the aisle to build consensus and support for this legislation.
"We must keep our promises to these brave men and women. Their lives depend on it. I urge all my colleagues to support H.R. 3985 and I reserve the balance of my time."