Report: Biden May Add At-Risk Women to Evacuation Plans for Afghans Waiting for U.S. Visas

Women gather outside the main entrance gate of a football stadium following a stampede that killed at least 11 women when people were applying for Pakistan visas, in Jalalabad on October 21, 2020. - At least 11 women were killed on October 21 in a stampede in an Afghan football …
NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden is considering granting 2,000 additional visas to Afghan women vulnerable to reprisals after the U.S. military completes its withdrawal from embattled Afghanistan at the end of next month, the country’s wire service Khaama Press (KP) reported Thursday.

KP noted:

Human and women’s rights advocates have asked Biden administration to add up to two thousand expedited and additional visas for women and advocated of women’s rights who are prone to danger and threat after US full pullout from Afghanistan.

US officials have told Reuters that Biden’s administration is considering to grant additional visas to Afghan women politicians, journalists and activists.

The report came on Thursday, the same day that Biden vowed to evacuate some of the Afghans who worked for the U.S. government and military and their family members who already applied for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) to wait out the lengthy and complex process outside of Afghanistan if they choose to.

There are 18,000 SIV applicants with an estimated 50,000 family members stuck in bureaucratic limbo waiting for the U.S. to process their visas.

SIVs are available to Afghans who fear Taliban revenge attacks against them and their families for working for the U.S. as interpreters, drivers, engineers, security guards, embassy clerks, fixers, contractors, and other capacities.

Biden told reporters that his administration would start relocation flights for Afghan SIV applicants who want to wait out the already backlogged process outside of Afghanistan.

Without explicitly saying exactly where the Afghan evacuees will go, Biden declared during the press briefing that the operation to get them out “has identified U.S. facilities outside the continental United States, as well as in third countries to host our Afghan allies.”

According to Biden, not all SIV applicants want to wait out the challenging process outside their home country. Some of them may be denied.

Human and women’s rights advocates have reportedly told the White House and State Department, which oversees U.S. visas, that America should include women in any urgent plan to evacuate Afghans.

They “not only asked” the Biden Administration “for women’s visas but also men and minority-groups who are subject to life-threatening dangers,” KP noted.

U.S. lawmakers have proposed bills to expedite the SIV process by eliminating national security and fraud safeguards, potentially resulting in any Afghan becoming eligible for the visa, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reported Thursday.

CIS learned that pending bills in the House and Senate are seeking to speed up the SIV process by no longer requiring applicants to show that they performed “sensitive and trusted work” to qualify.

Some of the proposals would do away with the requirement that applicants prove they are at risk if they stay in Afghanistan.

Moreover, the bills will nearly double the number of available visas, despite fast approaching U.S. military withdrawal.

In recent statements, the Taliban has asserted that Afghans who contributed to the U.S. military mission are free to live, adding that they will not target them as long as they repent, KP noted.

KP conceded that neither the White House nor the State Department has officially committed to accepting the rights group’s recommendations.

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