Veterans advocate urges Congress to act on aid for Afghans


(NewsNation) — Legislation that would help Afghan nationals who aided the U.S. military during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is sitting in Congress, and Paul Rieckhoff wants to help get it across the finish line.

Rieckhoff, a veteran of the U.S. Army and the Iraq War, has been advocating for the passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would provide a pathway for for Afghans living in the U.S. temporarily to get permanent residency. Currently, they can apply for that status only through the asylum system or the Special Immigrant Visa program, which has a major backlog.

More than 70,000 Afghans who evacuated to the U.S. after the withdrawal from Afghanistan are currently in legal limbo, staying here under a humanitarian parole program that is set to end in 2023.

The Afghan Adjustment Act was introduced in the Senate in August and co-sponsored by a group of bipartisan senators, including Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Republican Roy Blunt. Its faced opposition from senators including Chuck Grassley, who worry it poses a risk to national security.

“I’ve never seen an issue that’s more important to more people from more political backgrounds,” Rieckhoff said Friday on “CUOMO.” “Men and women are protesting outside the Capitol, and what they’re trying to do is ensure that our Afghan allies, the folks in Afghanistan who stood up with us in 20 years of war, aren’t left behind to die.”

Rieckhoff is also concerned about national security, which he said would be endangered if Congress doesn’t act.

“If you don’t take care of the people who stand up with us on the battlefield, the next time we go to war, they won’t stand up with us,” Rieckhoff said. “Every day that we wait, more people in Afghanistan are being hunted and killed by the Taliban just for helping us.”

Watch Rieckhoff’s interview above, where he also discusses U.S. support for the war in Ukraine.

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