U.S. Representative Jody Hice (R-GA-10) said members of the U.S. State Department fell short when the congressman and members of his staff urgently asked the agency to help remove Afghan allies who assisted the U.S. military.
Hice said this in an emailed press release where he linked to a recent Breitbart article.
Breitbart quoted Hice’s Chief of Staff Tim Reitz.
“All of the information we sent to State really just went into a black hole,” Reitz reportedly said.
“Breitbart News obtained and reviewed more than 20 emails between the Hice office and the State Department and U.S. Central Command related to the one particular instance of the 25 Afghans, a group comprised of seven Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and their family members, including multiple small children and babies. The emails from the State Department reveal days-long lag times for substantive responses, and even then, the responses were not tailored to address the specific group of 25,” according to the website.
“Six of the seven SIV applicants had worked as interpreters for U.S. forces. They were informally classified in emails at times as ‘high value individuals’ because they had aided U.S. military generals, served as translators for conversations of sensitive national security-related matters, or, in one instance, had been a lifesaving asset to a U.S. servicemember.”
U.S. Representative Austin Scott (R-GA-08) said this month that hundreds of Afghans with SIVs connected to his district were left behind in Afghanistan. This, Scott said, after those SIVs waited for days at the gates to the Kabul airport as they tried to escape Afghanistan. Scott said this during a recent U.S. House Armed Services Committee meeting.
Scott spokeswoman Rachel Ledbetter told The Georgia Star News via email this month that, for several years, Moody Air Force Base’s 81st Fighter Squadron trained pilots and maintenance technicians serving in the Afghan Air Force.
Moody Air Force Base is inside Scott’s district.
According to the Tennessee Office for Refugees’ website, an SIV holder is an Afghan national who works for the U.S. Armed Forces as a translator or interpreter. SIVs also contract with the U.S. government overseas. SIVs are eligible for the same resettlement benefits as refugees for up to eight months after arrival in the United States. They arrive with Legal Permanent Resident status and can apply for United States citizenship after five years, the website said.
The U.S. State Department’s website, meanwhile, said The Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021, enacted in July, authorized 8,000 additional SIVs for Afghan principal applicants. This, for a total of 34,500 visas allocated since 2014.
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