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With US forces set to exit Afghanistan by Sept. 11, President Joe Biden has a clear duty to offer refuge to all translators and other Afghans who went out on a limb to help the Americans during the war.
Roughly 18,000 of them have applied for special immigrant visas, the State Department reports. But that process could take years — years these people don’t have. They’re under constant threat from the Taliban already, and it’ll only get worse when the Yankees go marching home.
Nearly 100 former foreign-service and military officers are urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to grant emergency visas for asylum in America.
“Regrettably, US history is replete with instances where we failed to understand or prepare to mitigate the terrible consequences that might confront those of our national partners who stood beside us and believed in us when the going was tough,” their plea notes. “We have the ability now to avoid a similar fate for our Afghan partners and their families. We have a moral obligation to do better this time.”
Members of Congress from both parties are on board. “It’s really important” that Defense, State and the rest of the executive branch “find a way to help the people who have helped us,” says House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.). As Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) puts it, “We have a duty and a moral responsibility to protect them from the Taliban and al Qaeda. If we do not give them special immigrant visas, they will be left behind and be slaughtered by the enemy.”
After two decades, it may well be time for America to quit Afghanistan, but better to do it with a modicum of honor.
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