Following Trump Abandonment, Warner Introduces Bill to Provide Visas to Kurds Who Worked with U.S. Forces
Oct 17 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today introduced the Syrian Allies Protection Act, which would make U.S. visas available to Kurdish Syrians who worked directly with the U.S. armed forces in Syria and whose lives may now be in danger after President Trump abruptly withdrew American troops from northern Syria and allowed a Turkish military operation to move forward against Kurdish fighters who have been integral partners in the fight against ISIS. Since the Turkish offensive began last week, the UN has received reports of executions and human rights abuses against Kurdish fighters and civilians, and at least 160,000 civilians have been displaced.
“America has always stood by her allies. It’s shameful that as a result of President Trump’s reckless actions in Syria, the lives of our Kurdish allies are now in danger,” said Sen. Warner. “Our friends should not pay the price for the President’s irresponsible decision. This bill would establish a program, like those Congress has already established for Iraqi and Afghan nationals, that would allow Kurdish Syrians who worked directly with American troops in the fight against ISIS to come to safety here in the U.S.”
Similar to congressionally-directed programs that made select Iraqi and Afghan nationals who worked as interpreters or in other vital military support positions eligible for special immigrant visas, the Syrian Allies Protection Act would protect those Kurds in Syria who worked most closely with the United States, usually as translators, and whose lives are now threatened not only by the ongoing Turkish incursion, but by potential retaliation by freed ISIS fighters, regime forces, and other foreign interests in Syria now that the protection of American forces has been removed. The legislation would provide permanent American residence to Syrian nationals who worked for the U.S. armed forces for at least six months, have obtained a favorable recommendation from a general or flag officer in the chain of command, and have passed a background check and screening.
The legislation would also direct the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, to develop and implement a framework to evacuate these eligible individuals to safety – either in the United States or a third country – while vetting takes place, if their lives are at risk remaining in Syria.
The text of the Syrian Allies Protection Act is available here.