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State Dept. Offers Potential Refugee Status to More Afghans Who Worked With U.S.

  • August 02, 2021

Congress created the Special Immigrant Visa program to give refuge to Afghans and Iraqis who helped the U.S. military. But the State Department’s action on Monday reflects concern that the program still leaves vulnerable many Afghans with U.S. ties.

Last month, a coalition of news media organizations — including The New York Times, along with The Washington Post, ABC News, CNN, Fox News and several others — sent letters to President Biden and congressional leaders asking them to take more steps to protect Afghans who had worked as reporters, translators and support staff for U.S. outlets working in Afghanistan.

The letters noted that the Special Immigrant Visa program “does not reach those Afghans who have served U.S. news organizations. Yet they and their families face the same threat of retaliation from the Taliban, which views the American press as a legitimate target.”

The Taliban have “long conducted a campaign of threatening and killing journalists,” the letter pointed out, estimating that about 1,000 Afghans faced danger as a result of their journalistic affiliations.

The refugee program will also offer protection to Afghans who worked for U.S. government-funded programs and projects in the country, as well as nongovernmental organizations, which the Taliban have long targeted.

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