TAKE ACTION: Urge Congress to Protect Vulnerable People Waiting in Dangerous Situations

November 2, 2023

On November 3rd, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Afghan & Iraqi Allies vs Blinken – a lawsuit challenging the government’s failure to process applications for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) within the timeline mandated by Congress. The SIV program is designed to protect Afghan nationals whose work for the United States’ military has put their safety at risk, and cases are required by statute to be completed within 9 months. However, significant SIV backlogs have left hundreds of thousands of eligible individuals and their families waiting – often for four years or more – in dangerous conditions while their applications are processed.

As Veterans Day approaches, nine in ten Americans say they support keeping the U.S.’s word to Afghans who helped U.S. forces. In keeping with the will of the American people, it is incumbent upon Congress to improve pathways to safety for those who risked their lives to work in partnership with the U.S. 

The years-long delays and growing backlog facing Afghan SIV applicants are symptomatic of other backlogs limiting pathways to protection for those most at risk. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) has made progress in recent years at expediting cases, but the program remains slow-moving across all categories and thousands have been waiting for over 10 years in the pipeline. 

Programs like SIV and USRAP are constructed to protect those who often remain in grave danger while the application process continues. The U.S. has a moral and legal obligation to resolve bureaucratic inefficiencies in overseas humanitarian processing to protect those who have served the U.S. at great personal risk.

Join us in calling on Congress to protect individuals at risk by holding the administration accountable for tackling the SIV and USRAP backlog, investing resources in backlog reduction efforts and accounts, and passing legislation to create more resilient and efficient humanitarian programs.

On the right-hand side, you can send an email to your Members of Congress.

Sample Email: “My name is [insert name], and as your constituent from [City/Town] and a [person of faith/refugee/member of my community], I urge you to take steps to protect vulnerable individuals – including those from Afghanistan who worked for the United States at great personal risk – by addressing processing backlogs for Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants, refugees who remain in the resettlement pipeline, and other vulnerable populations.

Congress has mandated that USCIS completes all government-controlled processing steps for SIV applications within nine months. However, in practice, many SIV applicants have been waiting for over four years for their applications to be adjudicated. Despite some recent progress, backlogs and inefficiencies persist across pathways to humanitarian protection, leaving individuals whom the U.S. has promised to protect at risk. I urge you to:

  • Hold the administration accountable for processing SIV applications within 9 months as required by statute and to prioritize tackling backlogs and inefficiencies across the SIV program and the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). 
  • Robustly fund U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to increase the agency’s capacity to adjudicate applications for protection, including SIV applications and USRAP cases. Additionally, I urge you to support investment in the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account to address delays in refugee processing. I support the administration’s supplemental request of $755 million for USCIS and $4.345 billion for MRA.
  • Cosponsor and work to pass legislation to increase the availability of SIVs to key populations and address backlogs for SIV applicants and others seeking pathways to protection, including:
    • The Refugee Protection Act (reintroduction forthcoming) would address backlogs and provide Congress tools to hold the State Department and other agencies accountable for improving visa processing. The bill also includes other measures to restore and strengthen the refugee resettlement program and bolster asylum protections.
    • The Afghan Allies Protection Act (S. 1786 / H.R.3808) authorizes an increase in the number of available Special Immigrant Visas and establishes a strategy to improve visa processing times, including by designating senior coordinating officials to oversee the efficiency and integrity of Special Immigrant Visa application adjudications for individuals from Afghanistan.
    • The Afghan Adjustment Act (S. 2327 / H.R. 4627) would ease the SIV backlog by providing eligible evacuees already in the U.S. an alternative, streamlined path to status and by bolstering ongoing evacuation efforts of those who remain at risk. 

 It is incumbent upon Congress to leverage its appropriations, legislation, and oversight powers to expand and expedite pathways to protection for people facing danger. Thank you”

Sample social media posts:
View and download sample graphics here.

  • @legislator: the U.S. has a moral and legal obligation to uphold the safety of those it has promised to protect. Congress must invest in solutions to tackle the SIV and refugee resettlement backlogs!
  • @legislator: it is incumbent upon Congress to hold the Biden administration accountable for protecting vulnerable individuals who are eligible for humanitarian processing and resettlement but have been waiting in the backlog for years.
  • @legislator: for too long, the administration has failed to follow through on its commitments to Afghans who risked their lives to work alongside American personnel. Congress must hold the administration accountable and invest in solutions to address delays that leave lives in danger.

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