STATEMENT — LIRS welcomes National Defense Authorization Act Provision, still urges increase in overall SIV cap

December 1, 2016

Press Contact:
Miji Bell mbell@lirs.org; 410-230-2841

WASHINGTON, DC – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) welcomes the provision in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would, if passed, reauthorize the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for an additional four years. However, LIRS is disappointed that the final negotiated text did not include a more substantial increase in the amount of SIVs authorized in light of how many men and women have applied and are currently awaiting an urgently needed visa. LIRS calls on Congress to increase the SIV cap to meet this urgent need.

The final NDAA text, released on November 30, 2016, only included a modest increase of 1,500 SIVs despite the fact that nearly 8,000 men and women have applications in process and there were only 1,962 available visas remaining as of mid-September.

LIRS has a long tradition of working with both Iraqi and Afghani SIV recipients and looks forward to continuing this work in the future. These courageous men and women face persecution for risking their lives to stand alongside U.S. troops and it is our duty to continue to have a pathway for them to seek safety and start new lives in the United States, a country they risked their lives for.

Earlier this year, LIRS joined fourteen other refugee organizations in a letter to Congress urging an extension of the program and recommending they allocate 4,000 additional visas for Afghan SIV applicants for Fiscal Year 2017.

###

Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is the second largest refugee resettlement agency in the United States. It is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through more than 75 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.