A press release from Office of Rep. Derek Kilmer.
On Aug. 19, 2021, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) joined Reps. Grace Meng (NY-06), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), and over 70 of his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives in sending a letter to Secretaries Mayorkas and Blinken calling for the Departments of Homeland Security and State to take a number of immediate steps to help as many Afghan allies as possible relocate quickly and efficiently to the United States.
The letter comes as the Biden-Harris administration has taken steps to evacuate U.S. citizens and vulnerable citizens from Afghanistan, including SIV applicants and their families. However, there remains a pressing need to evacuate more Afghan allies and their families, women and girls, journalists, non-government organization employees, translators, and others.
The letter urges the Administration to establish a special humanitarian parole program specifically for women leaders, activists, human rights defenders, parliamentarians, journalists, and other highly visible women currently at risk; increase processing capacity within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; appoint an interagency refugee coordinator; and, work to ensure the safe exit from Afghanistan of those making use of the Priority 1 or 2 pathways to third countries, and to support them upon arrival.
“Like most Americans, I have found it difficult to watch the events unfolding in Afghanistan,” said Rep. Kilmer. “There will be a pressing need to fully analyze the conflict over the last two decades, but right now the federal government should take action and use all available resources to ensure the safety and swift exit of all US citizens and our Afghan allies and partners. That’s why I’ve joined Reps. Meng, Houlahan and over 70 of my colleagues in urging the Departments of Homeland Security and State to take immediate steps to help relocate as many of our allies as possible.”
“It is imperative that the Administration makes use of every resource available to relocate our allies, women leaders, activists, and other highly vulnerable individuals to the United States,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “My staff has been working diligently at all hours to help those fleeing Afghanistan. By taking these concrete steps as laid out in my letter, we can expedite the relocation of our Afghan allies. I urge the Administration to work with Congress in this endeavor.”
“The images and news reports coming out of Afghanistan paint a haunting picture of fear and desperation,” said Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan. “Time is of the essence to help the Afghan men and women who stood beside American servicemembers, diplomats, and humanitarians as translators, cultural guides, allies, and friends over the last two decades. I urge the Administration to quickly act on our recommendations in order to ensure those most likely to be targeted for advancing women’s equality and promoting human rights are not left behind.”
The full text of the letter can be found here and below.
The letter was signed by Representatives Ro Khanna, Donald Payne, Albio Sires, Bobby Rush, Jim Cooper, Jennifer Wexton, Earl Blumenauer, Peter Welch, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Adriano Espaillat, Marilyn Strickland, Ilhan Omar, Sara Jacobs, Jake Auchincloss, Brad Sherman, Zoe Lofgren, Adam Smith, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Debbie Dingell, Jerry Nadler, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jim McGovern, Chellie Pingree, Jim Costa, Seth Moulton, Steven Horsford, Scott Peters, Tom Malinowski, Suzan DelBene, Ted Lieu, Kim Schrier, Paul Tonko, Madeleine Dean, Suzanne Bonamici, Juan Vargas, Dwight Evans, Tom Suozzi, John Yarmuth, Dina Titus, Jim Himes, Michael Waltz, Anna Eshoo, Mike Quigley, Stephen Lynch, David Price, Ayanna Pressley, Ami Bera, Jared Huffman, Marc Veasey, Jahana Hayes, Hank Johnson, Elaine Luria, Val Demings, Gregory Meeks, Bill Keating, Derek Kilmer, Ritchie Torres, Carolyn Maloney, Sylvia Garcia, Joseph Morelle, Ruben Gallego, Anthony Brown, Jerry McNerney, Colin Allred, David Cicilline, Elissa Slotkin, Mary Gay Scanlon, Doris Matsui, Joyce Beatty, Jamaal Bowman, Brian Higgins, Rick Larsen, Raúl Grijalva, Jim Langevin, and Betty McCollum.
Dear Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Blinken,
We write to express our urgent concern and to share our priorities to help save the lives of our Afghan allies and their families, women and girls, journalists, non-government organization employees, translators, and so many others currently stuck in Afghanistan. It should be the priority of this Administration to leverage all available resources at the Departments of Homeland Security and State to help as many people as possible relocate quickly and efficiently to the United States. The efforts the Administration has taken to date to evacuate U.S. citizens and vulnerable citizens from Afghanistan, including SIV applicants and their families, is commendable and must continue.
As our staff have been working diligently at all hours to help those fleeing Afghanistan, it has been brought to our attention that there are a number of steps the Departments of Homeland Security and State can take immediately to expedite the relocation of our Afghan allies.
First, it is imperative that the Department of Homeland Security establishes a special humanitarian parole program specifically for women leaders, activists, human rights defenders, parliamentarians, journalists, and other highly visible women currently at risk. This would allow for the immediate and efficient relocation of these extremely vulnerable women to the United States. Once such a parole program is established, women’s right organizations here in the United States are prepared to quickly mobilize sponsorships for these women and their families, ensuring there will be robust legal, educational, economic, and medical support upon arrival.
Second, increased processing capacity within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is vitally important, as well as the appointment of an interagency refugee coordinator. Lastly, for those who are not eligible for humanitarian parole and will be making use of the Priority 1 or 2 pathways, it is essential that we work to ensure their relocation to third countries and support them upon arrival. Medical, legal, and educational support while these individuals are in third countries is incredibly important given the long application process. Unfortunately, with the Taliban in control of all of Afghanistan’s border crossings, the ability for these individuals to cross safely on their own is nearly impossible. We must take concrete steps to use the diplomatic tools at our disposal to support their safe exit from Afghanistan. The State Department should also be working with Afghanistan’s neighbors to make a plan for the possibility of substantial refugee migration to those countries.
Your attention to these priority requests will help ensure the safety of our Afghan allies who desperately need our support.