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Senators Push For Visas For Afghans Who Helped U.S. Forces

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen sponsored the bill with other colleagues, including several Republicans. (file photo)

Republican and Democratic senators have sponsored a bill to provide U.S. visas for Afghans who worked for American forces during the war in their country and whose lives are at risk due to that work.

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen sponsored the May 15 bill with Republicans Thom Tillis, Roger Wicker and Cory Gardner and Democrats Jack Reed, Richard Blumenthal and Tim Kaine.

The bill would provide 4,000 Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for the remainder of the federal fiscal year ending on September 30, and also try to identify reasons that have prevented Afghans from getting SIVs under previously passed legislation.

Supporters of the measure said Washington must offer safe haven to Afghans who worked for U.S. forces in order to ensure local support.

President Donald Trump's administration has cut by 60 percent the number of U.S. visas provided to Afghans who risked their lives assisting American forces, National Public Radio reported on May 1.

Some 1,650 SIVs were approved last year, down from more than 4,000 in fiscal year 2017.

Army General Austin Miller, commander of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, sent a letter to Shaheen backing the bill, calling the SIV program critical to success in Afghanistan.

Based on reporting by Reuters and NPR