Vets ask Biden to take action for Afghan interpreters and other allies

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Representative Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Spoke at a rally on Friday to demand presidential action for Americans Afghan allies, such as interpreters who took great risks to help US troops and are now being left behind as US military forces withdraw from the country.

Standing in Lafayette Square outside the White House, Moulton, a former naval officer with multiple combat missions, said, “I want to thank veterans from all over America, veterans from different political parties and from different wars, who meet today and recall Americans that we have a promise to keep. “

The rally took place a week after the New York Times reported that the Biden administration was advising lawmakers that the United States would soon begin moving thousands of Afghan allies to third countries pending processing of their special immigrant visas. However, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have yet to receive details.

According to Moulton, the solution is simple: evacuate our allies now. “I’m asking three things of the administration right now. First, adopt our plan or find a better one… Second, we need a commander. We need someone who is in charge and is responsible. of its making, and thirdly we need a promise… I don’t want to hear in two months that we’re out of time… We can’t leave anyone behind, ”the congressman said in an interview with Fox News.

the special immigrant visa program was created with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2006, and was designed to expedite visa processing for Afghans and Iraqis who worked as interpreters and translators for US forces. For 2021, only 50 visas are allowed, while more than 17,000 eligible Afghans remain in the country.

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Even before the American withdrawal, the long wait for a visa was often fatal. Cress Clippard, a former naval officer and Afghanistan veteran who volunteers with Combined Arms – a group that helps resettle Afghans and Iraqis who worked with US forces – recently ensured the evacuation from the family of a slain interpreter. Taken from his car at a Taliban checkpoint, the former interpreter was executed in front of his young son in revenge for his service in the US military. “(He) had served more than 10 years in the US forces in Afghanistan, (but) was wrongly denied his visa,” Clippard told Fox News.

“We had to get that family out of there,” Clippard said. “Their eldest adult son was threatened by the Taliban… and we knew it was so urgent that we were just getting them out of Afghanistan, and we were able to bring them here to Houston, Texas, through a program called Humanitarian. Say, but it’s more of a band-aid solution. ”

Representative Peter Meijer, R-Mich., Also says he understands the danger these performers face and has been pushing the executive to take action. Having served both as an army intelligence officer in Iraq and as a civil conflict analyst with an international NGO in Afghanistan, Meijer told Fox News these host nation allies are crucial to U.S. forces.

“I have been on both sides of the explosion wall in our two biggest conflicts after 9/11… we have an obligation to those who risked their lives on our behalf… we cannot leave them behind until certain death. And you see this in Congress, there are veterans who appreciate and understand the commitment that was made … often with the promise that there would be a visa waiting for them if we left … if they were in danger, we would take care of them the way they took care of us. “

“President Biden is the Commander-in-Chief, he has to order the Defense Department … to execute this … it’s not something Congress can order, it lies at the president’s feet,” Meijer told Fox .

Meijer sees an inconsistency between the way economic refugees are treated on the southern border and the way the administration deals with Afghans who fought the Taliban and Al Qaeda alongside the US military. “President Biden got rid of the retention policy in Mexico – because apparently for economic migrants it was inhuman – but he insisted on a retention policy in Afghanistan for the performers we already know and whom we have already checked. “

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The rally was co-sponsored by With honor, an organization “dedicated to promoting and advancing the leadership of senior veterans in elected public service,” according to its website. The organization’s co-founder and CEO, Rye Barcott, is a Navy veteran who served in Iraq. He told Fox News that this question is a great example of how veteran leadership in Congress can help get things done. “We support more than 25 veterans who are part of the For the country caucus in the House, and they have made this issue of protecting our Afghan allies a top legislative priority. “

For all of these veterans – Moulton, Clippard, Meijer and Barcott – it is both a matter of honor and national security.

“If we break those promises, if we betray them and abandon those who have served alongside us, people will remember it,” Meijer said. “Not only those Afghans whom we betray, but also, in any potential future conflict, we are going to be seen as a country that breaks our promises, cuts and flees, turns its back on our allies, it will be, frankly, a country that cannot be trusted. I think it will be incredibly damaging to our national security in the long run. ”

Moulton added: “There is a moral imperative for future generations of the American military, that we show them that they will be able to make this promise on the ground in another country someday, and people will not look back. in Afghanistan and say we broke that promise. “

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