Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has backed a visa program for Afghani interpreters and their relatives that’s funded by imposing higher costs on U.S. military veterans’ health care costs, according to an immigration reduction group.
The amendment proposed by New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen — and supported by McCain — will increase the number of Afghan Special Immigrant Visas for people who have aided U.S. soldiers as interpreters or translators. The number of visas will rise from 7,000 to 11,000, and each visa holder can bring spouses and their children to the United States.
“It is time for the Senate to stop treating U.S. immigration policy like a Christmas tree that they can simply add more baubles to on a whim,” a press release from NumbersUSA sent to Senate offices Monday read. “Americans have to pay for each of those baubles — through higher taxes, fewer jobs, lower wages, and, tragically, higher health care costs for soldiers and their families.”
McCain’s office declined to respond to queries from Breitbart News.
Congress cut healthcare benefits to veterans in the 2016 budget by increasing pharmacy co-pays — using some of those savings to fund an expansion of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visas program, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation. The money could have been taken from other spending accounts, such as programs at the State Department.
Backers of the amendment plan to do more of the same, says NumbersUSA: “Once again, shamefully, the proposed pay-for apparently will be on the backs of our soldiers and their families in higher-priced health care.”
The war in violent, tribal, Third World Afghanistan has cost American taxpayers $1.6 trillion since 9/11, according to a 2014 Congressional Research Office estimate. It has taken the lives of over 2,300 U.S. soldiers, on top of over 20,000 U.S. soldiers wounded or maimed.
But Republicans and Democrats have united to pile more costs onto taxpayers and military families.
NumbersUSA explained the wide range of taxpayer-funded programs the Afghanis are eligible to receive.
“Recipients are entitled to every benefit to which refugees are entitled, including travel loans, eight months of refugee cash and medical assistance, social services, up to five years of job training, job placement, and English classes,” along with employment authorization and a Social Security number.
The SSN allows them to claim Earned Income Tax Credits and Additional Child Tax Credits. Every child born on U.S. soil is automatically awarded U.S. citizenship, thanks to liberal Supreme Court Justice William Brennan’s 1982 footnote in Plyler v. Doe. They, in turn, can sponsor “relatives” to join them in the U.S., whether or not American communities prefer to have impoverished, tribal, devout Muslims resettled en-masse into their neighborhoods. This is thanks to the 51-year long chain migration tradition of giving migrants control over U.S. immigration policy, successfully advocated by Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy and his Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
In addition, they are eligible for federal entitlement programs and other benefits, including but not limited to:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP)
It’s a remarkable bargain for interpreters who aided the U.S. in their native country. The Afghan Special Immigrant Visas program was created in 2009 and continued to grow as modifications were made. Despite its expansion, thousands of visas still remain unclaimed, NumbersUSA says:
As of April 7 of this year, the Department of State still had 3,635 visas available to issue. Notably, the visa cap applies only to principal alien applicants — with an uncapped number going to each applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. So in FY 2014, while 3,441 visas were issued to principal aliens, 5,666 were issued to their dependents. In FY 2015, 2,301 were issued to principals, and 4,411 to dependents. As of December 31 of 2015, 1,367 had been issued to principals and 2,942 to their dependents.
But there’s still years left to apply: The McCain-backed amendment requires a report “detailing a strategy for bringing the program to a responsible end” should be written by December 31, 2019 — or “soon thereafter,” depending on continued U.S. military involvement. President Obama announced in October 2015 that he would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan until the end of his term in 2017.