This little piece just came up in my alerts at Foreign Policy. I don’t know if the bills were voted on yesterday to extend the program, but its one more thing to watch for. Remember when I told you about the breakdown of who we would be bringing as “refugees” for 2013, here. SIVs were expected to number 4,000. Doesn’t that sound like an awful lot of people acting as interpreters? I bet the definition gets stretched!
Foreign Policy posted this short news item:
U.S. lawmakers are set to vote on two different pieces of legislation Friday that could impact thousands of former and current Afghan interpreters who are seeking U.S. visas (Post). The Afghan Allies Protection Act was passed in 2009 to help Afghans who were risking their lives by working for the U.S. mission, and are seen as legitimate targets by the Taliban and other militant groups, move to the United States once their work had concluded. But only a small percentage of these visa requests -32 of more than 5,700 applications – has been approved. A Senate bill would extend the program, set to expire next September, to 2015 and broaden coverage to include interpreters for coalition forces, media organizations, and non-governmental organizations. A House proposal would also extend the program but would cut the number of available visas by two-thirds.
Here is an overview of the program run by the US State Department. The SIVs are treated as refugees and are placed by a contractor in your community and are eligible for all forms of welfare, just like a refugee or asylee.