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tv   Sen. Shaheen and Others Discuss Visas for Afghan Allies  CSPAN  July 28, 2021 10:25am-11:28am EDT

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the c-span radio app. new hampshire senator jeanne shaheen, former u.s. ambassador to afghanistan ryan crocker and other foreign policy experts talked about efforts to remove afghan allies from the country as u.s. troops continue their withdrawal. the center for strategic and international studies hosted this virtual discussion. >> i want to welcome our viewers who are live streaming this event for this very important conversation on what the united states owes its afghan allies. thank you all for joining us today. today's discussion is visas for our afghan partners. what does the united states owe its afghan allies? i would have preferred that we maintain a small number of troops in afghanistan but that decision has been made. the events in afghanistan are moving rapidly. those afghans that work closely
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with u.s. military, with our allies, with the u.s. diplomatic development and intelligence communities are going to be at heightened risk to taliban attack going forward. there are easily tens of thousands of afghans who aided the u.s. over the last 20 years and not just military operations, but also in the development diplomatic and intelligence communities. most of these afghans have families. what obligation do we have to all of these people? i would argue we have a major obligation to all of these afghans and their families. there has been significant action in the congress to streamline the so-called special immigrant visas, so-called sivs processed for our afghan partners who worked with the u.s. military. that is one part of the afghan community that i think we have an obligation to. there are likely going to be many other actions that may be needed. there are a lot of questions such as why does it take so long to process one of these siv --
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one of these special immigrant visas? how and where might an evacuation process take place? who might be included? what other visa options exist outside of the siv process? let's jump right into our conversation. i want to welcome our panelists. we have with us senator jeanne shaheen who is the chair of the senate foreign relations subcommittee on europe and regional security cooperation and she is the co-chair of the senate nato observer group and she has been a consistent leader on these issues. thank you, senator shaheen, for being with us. >> thank you. >> we also have with us today ambassador earl anthony wayne, a former deputy ambassador to afghanistan and a senior advisor as csis and has been a conscience on afghanistan with us here as csis. i'm grateful to ambassador janice jacobs, a former u.s. ambassador and former assistant
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secretary of state for consular affairs to give us a better perspective on sivs and visa processing. i'm also really grateful to ambassador ryan crocker, someone i really admire, who is a former u.s. ambassador of afghanistan, iraq, and pakistan and an adviser to an organization called no one left behind, an advocacy group that focuses on the siv process. and finally last but not least i'm very grateful to have jill marie busey the director of public policy for the lutheran immigration and refugee service. jill focuses on the administrative advocacy and immigration areas, one of those being the sivs for afghan wartime allies and has a lot of information on the situation in afghanistan and is going to bring a lot of really relevant information to this conversation. thank you all for joining me today. i want to quickly remind our online viewers that this is an interactive online event. i invite you all to participate
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through submitting questions to our panel. to submit your questions please go to our web page at and click on ask live questions here button. let me start with you, ambassador wayne. you've been a real partner to me on this issue. what is the challenge we are currently facing in afghanistan? >> well, of course, the big challenge is how do you move out of a war and still retain credibility and have good outcomes? a number of the things we're going to talk about today are about u.s. credibility and responsibility reflecting our 20 years in afghanistan. when the announcement was made by the president that u.s. troops were going to leave, it was also announced that -- many
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foresaw and it has many people worried in afghanistan, but it also reflects the fact that afghan morale really sunk very quickly in a number of the security units and it has set off also large numbers of people moving across afghanistan, the u.n. estimates that almost 300,000 afghans have been internally displaced since january of this year. so there is a lot going on. what we're going to look at today in detail is what responsibility do we have toward those afghans who worked with us, with the military, but also with the state department, with u.s. aid, with others going forward and i'm sure we're going to touch upon the issues of what responsibilities do we have vis-a-vis those afghans hobbled
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-- who believed in us and believed in the values that we were talking about and the objectives that we were setting. some of them were women activists, others were activists for democracy, the people who maintained a free press in afghanistan which stands out in that part of the world and many others. so we're going to, i think, talk about that and all this does get back to u.s. credibility. it may not be an easy way ever to leave a war situation, but much better if you can leave with your credibility intact. so just let me mention three big challenges as we go ahead. one is in the media what are we going to do to bring people out who worked with us who are really in danger? secondly, are there things that we can do to help rally morale among those in kabul and other places who really don't agree with the taliban and don't foresee a future of afghanistan ruled by the taliban with many
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of the same practices that they used when they ruled in the 1990s. and then third, related to that, what can you do or what should you be doing to have contingency plans for the future. not knowing which way things are going to go. i think a u.s. objective still needs to be an afghanistan at peace, an afghanistan that reflects the diversity of its people, an afghanistan that can ideally bring elements from the taliban, from the non-taliban forces that make up the government in kabul, different parts of the country, women, pro-democracy advocates and others all living together peacefully within a framework. if we can't get there, what should come next? so we are going to grapple with some of these problems today. it's a lot bigger than we can talk about, but there are some very important things we can do
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for tens of thousands of afghans who we know are in danger because they worked with us very closely. thank you. >> senator shaheen, you've been very active and vocal on sivs for afghanistan, thank you very much. there has been a lot of energy on capitol hill especially in the last couple months and you've been a great part of that. could you walk us through your thinking on how to proceed and the current activity in congress, senator? >> yes. and as ambassador wayne says, this is about the credibility of the united states, it's also about what we should do from a humanitarian perspective so ensure that those people who made a commitment to help us, who we promised to make sure that they were not threatened are not slaughtered by the taliban, as the taliban expands their influence throughout afghanistan. i started working on this issue over ten years ago with john mccain because as far back as 2010 we knew we had a problem with the siv process, it was
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cumbersome, it was difficult, the paperwork that was required for applicants to showed that they had worked with americans was challenging for many afghans. so we -- i had been working on it ever since and john mccain worked very hard, it's one of hess legacies that he felt very strongly that we needed to make sure that those people who helped american troops did not wind up being killed because of that help. so right now as we look at the challenges we're facing as america is almost out of afghanistan, at least our troops, it is that we have thousands of afghans who have helped us, who would like to get out of the country because they are threatened. when president biden announced that he was going to be withdrawing troops we had over 17,000 siv applicants in the queue and we know that there are
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more than that number as we get about their families and the other people who have come forward since the announcement of america's withdrawal. we have legislation right now in both the house and senate, our bill -- my bill in the senate has bipartisan support from senator ernst, senator wicker, others and i'm very pleased to see the amount of bipartisan support for this effort. there is a similar effort in the house. our legislation would increase the number of siv applicants over the cause number which is 8,000 to 20,000, it also changes the process that makes it easier to get the paperwork, we reduce the amount of time required to help americans from two years down to one, we also changed the medical exam which has often been a real difficulty for afghans, they will get the medical exam that's required to get into the united states and then because it takes a long time to get the other paperwork
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processed they get that done and then they need to get another medical exam. we have waived that. we know that the president earlier this week announced that the state department was going to be heading up an effort to see that afghans could get to a third country while they wait for their applications to be processed. but i think this is an all hands on deck moment when we've got to do everything we can to ensure that those people who were depending on the united states know that we are still there in support of the sacrifices they made to help us. >> thank you, senator. i wholeheartedly agree. jill, could you tell us what is operation ally refuge and can you give us a better understanding of what the situation is, especially in the last 72 hours, please? >> sure. thank you, dan and the center for the invitation to this distinguished panel on a
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discussion -- on a topic that is incredibly urgent for our afghan allies who seek safety and protection. lutheran immigration and refugee services or lirs has operated for over 80 years offering welcome and hope to more than a half million refugees. we have played a major role in resettling over 9,000 afghan allies, providing direct services and we also advocate for their rights and the improvements in the siv program. we have been working very closely in coalition with our non-governmental partners, human rights first, veterans for american ideals, the international refugee assistance project and the association of wartime allies, as well as congressional champions like the senator to call on the administration to evacuate this 18,000 afghan ally population who have already applied for the special immigrant visa. after months of escalation advocacy the biden administration finally announced on wednesday, just this wednesday, july 14th, a plan
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called operation allies refuge to evacuate certain afghan special immigrant visa and others who may be vulnerable. evacuation flights are to begin the last week of july. the state department is to charter commercial aircraft as opposed to using military aircraft. with respect to leadership, russ travers the deputy homeland security adviser and former head of the national counterterrorism center is coordinating the interagency policy process. while location destinations are still in flux, but ambassador tracy jacobson is leading the state department coordination unit, lending credence to the earlier reports that central asian countries may be one of the destinations. with respect to actual evacuations, we do not know --
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selected how many of the 18,000 siv applicants in the pipeline and their more than 50,000 family members will be saved through evacuation and where they will go. we are also deeply concerned about how people who are outside of kabul would even access the evacuation. we're seeing various reports about the potential initial tranche of 2,500 afghans who may be evacuated to u.s. military installations and other reports stating that the administration would not publicly release information on destinations or numbers of afghans. so a lot is unclear. we've also seen varying reports about the locations for evacuation, whether some may be brought directly to the united states or u.s. territory or third countries. on july 2nd there were leaks from the white house indicating that they were considering these three central asian countries, kazakhstan, tajikistan and
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uzbekistan but we have not seen any evidence that the countries have actually consented to receive evacuees. pentagon press secretary john kirby said in a briefing on wednesday that all options are being considered and that would include for the potential for short-term use of u.s. based installations. from our perspective advocates the location matters greatly as we advocate it should be u.s. soil to ensure the safety and rights of the applicants. this plan which was just released as i mentioned on wednesday is a vital first step in honoring the promise to afghan allies, but it's concerningly scarce in essential details, much like the president's remarks on afghanistan last thursday, we are left with more questions than answers. we understand the sensitivity of military operations, but these outstanding questions seem distant and disparate from the u.s. security considerations. we hope that the administration will recognize the need for information and prevent anxiety
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and further chaos by releasing details as soon as possible. thank you. >> great. thank you very much. ambassador jacobs, thanks for being here. could you tell us what is the process like and why is it so challenging, ambassador jacobs? >> all right. thank you. and i want to thank all of the distinguished participants in today's panel. everyone brings so much dedication and expertise on this subject. and also let me say that there isn't anyone involved in the siv process that doesn't firmly believe that we owe the afghans that have helped us. there is certainly a widespread commitment to trying to do that. this is a complicated visa process. since it was the siv program was established in 2009, we've issued over 20,000 sivs, we
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still have a long way to go. it is complicated in part because of legislation and requirements laid out there, but also because of some of the difficulties involved for the afghans themselves in trying to meet the criteria and trying to gather the required documents. this has been a challenge, especially for those who worked for the military. oftentimes supervisors are no longer active members of the military and it's hard to track them down, it's hard to get the proof of employment, it's hard to get the letter of recommendation. there is a list of documents required, but basically the process is that you have to show that you've been -- that you've worked either for the u.s. government or for the international forces.
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after september 15th it's a two-year employment requirement before that one year. you have to have a letter of recommendation. you go through what is called a chief of mission approval process, that there is a committee within the state department that gets together to look at required documentation and then send that to the embassy in kabul with a recommendation for approval. once that approval is received then the applicant has to file a petition with u.s. citizenship and immigration services. that petition then has to be approved. there are more documentation requirements for that. eventually once all of the paperwork is in order someone can set up an appointment for a visa interview. that interview takes place and then there is what is called administrative processing. i have to tell you that that
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right now and i think historically has been the longest delay in processing these applications. what is that exactly? that's really a security vetting, a security review by different agencies in washington to make sure that the applicant presents no threat to the united states. once that is done then they can -- and the applicant is approved they go ahead with the medical. senator shaheen has explained efforts to try to streamline some of this. certainly the step on the medical makes a lot of sense so that they don't have to do that more than once. but it is a complicated process and it can be difficult for people to especially get all the required documentation. the other challenge right now, of course, is we had a pandemic and the visa sections around the
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world were closed for over a year and so not much, if any, processing took place then. i will say that embassy kabul is trying now very hard to, you know, process as many visas as they can. unfortunately they still have covid issues, they had to shut down for two weeks not too long ago because there was a covid infection within the embassy. so it is -- it is a complicated process and i think anyone involved in it will admit to that and it can get delayed at any one of those steps along the way. let me just say real quickly on the latest effort to try to evacuate the people. the pipeline -- the pipeline has roughly 18,000 people in it right now but that pipeline is never really going to diminish because you can apply for this up until december of 2022 so the
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pipeline is always going to be constantly refilled, you know, sort of as it's emptied out. so the numbers, yes, are significant and we need to pay attention to that, but one shouldn't believe that, you know, once we address 18,000 people and their family members that it's over. no. this will continue until 2022. as far as taking applicants to a third country, and i suspect that there are negotiations taking place, certainly ambassador tracy jacobson is the perfect person, i think, to be leading this effort at the state department because she has a lot of experience in central asia. for any country that takes -- agrees to take on at least a certain number of the afghan applicants, normally they're going to want a guarantee that the visas will be issued.
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in other words, if they let thousands of people in, these people are not going to be staying. they'll probably want guarantees on how long will they stay and for sure we want to know that they are all going to get visas. we're not going to be able to offer those guarantees. we can they ever guarantee in advance that someone will get a visa. so there will be a certain number of people, just as there are now, who are going to be denied because they didn't meet one of the requirements that has been established. so there's that. let me add that bringing applicants into the u.s. presents a huge issue for the state department because it could present challenges to the consular nonreviewability doctrine that is currently in place. what is that? when decisions obvious sasse are made overseas, denials cannot be challenged in u.s. courts.
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once you get them on u.s. soil, denials can be and probably will be taken into u.s. courts and that is -- that's a serious concern for the state department, the nonreviewability has been carefully protected by the department. there are important reasons for that to remain in place. so those are some of the challenges. deciding who is actually going to be evacuated, which family members are going to be able to accompany the principal applicants, as people have mentioned here, getting the word out into far flung areas of afghanistan, all of these are special challenges and the white house is talking about moving people by the end of this month. so i suspect that ambassador jacobson and russ travers and others working on this are getting very little sleep because it is a huge, huge
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challenge, but i do know that the white house is committed to helping those that have helped us and i can tell you as i said at the beginning the people involved from the consular perspective, from the visa perspective, also share that commitment. and one last thing is that certainly the state department is going to be asked to surge, to put additional consular officers on to this task. consular affairs is fee funded and unfortunately during the pandemic especially with the halt in visa operations revenue for consular affairs really dried up. so there are some financial issues because you may have also seen in the news that the state department is really being pressured to shorten the wait times for u.s. passports. so there are only a certain number of resources to go around
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and i know that the state department will certainly put as many resources as they can on the -- on processing sivs, but do keep in mind that there are some challenges there as well. >> thank you. ambassador crocker, thank you for being here. what obligations do we have to afghans, and when we are talking about the sivs, what obligations do we have? >> thank you. it is extraordinary to look after the people who are looking after us, and it is extraordinary for the challenges that we would have been looking for more if it weren't for her continuous and steadfast dedication to fixing this problem. and a lot of fixes are clearly needed, but thank you, senator,
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you made a huge difference. >> thank you. >> i would say that it is, you know, again, a fraught situation that we are facing right now. we have those 18,000, and as we are seeking to move them out through a plan that is clearly being put together as it is implemented, none of this is going to be easy. one of the key concerns that i think that all of us would have is that frankly, the agency is now passed to the taliban. we are effectively out of afghanistan, and we are seeing what the taliban is doing, taking over border crossing points, seizing the district points as senator wayne pointed out, and anything is going to require taliban ascent, and we
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won't be there to secure the airport, and the afghan security forces will be a part of this, but again, given the demoralization of the whole process has equipped, i am not sure how steady they would be. the turks have said they would send in the forces to the airport not directly related to these evacuations, and the taliban has publicly warned them not to do it. so with all of the other complications that we are looking at, we have to bear in mind that we gave up u.s. agency on this matter and anything else related to afghanistan, and again, face it. so it is kind of up to the taliban. and that is a very, very bad place to be. to the broader question, i think it is crucial that we find a way to do the right thing or things. we have a moral obligation here. talking about our own national
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security. it is a truly global situation that we face out there. what happens in one place has impact elsewhere. and the world is watching to see what we do. we will be in future conflicts. both of the conflicts will be in the messy complicated things that we have seen in iraq and afghanistan, and we will have a urgent need for interpreters and not just to translate languages, but to translate cultures. the foreign services have always known it, and fsns, and the foreign service nationals around the world, they are the backbones of the embassies, and we could not function literally without them, and we are now learning this, and that is a very good thing if we do the right thing. after this afghan experience, if we are seen to be unwilling or ineffective or both in people who served us died because of
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that, there is not exactly going to be a long line of folks willing to interpret for us in other places of conflict and of urgent security need for our own national security. so this is just the beginning of what is going to be a long hard slog to make the right decisions, to do the right thing, and to make sure that we get the people who perish. this is all hands on deck moment, and this is not business as usual. it has to be a presidential priority. thanks. >> senator shaheen, i want to give you a chance to react to other things that are on the table, and then put a couple of questions to the audience and cognizant of the fact that you want to leave early, so i want to give you some air time to react to what you have heard and also some time to direct some of the questions. >> well, i think everybody from
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slightly different perspectives have laid out the challenge, and i appreciate the nice words of ambassador crocker and everyone on the panel to try to address the challenge that we have in getting out of afghanistan those people who put their lives at risk to help us. we've got to, and we have got to look at what we can do now to streamline the process to ensure that we can get those out who are most at risk. i can't remember who said it. perhaps it was jill that one of the challenges also is that while kabul has some security although not a whole lot, but certainly people who are in many of the provinces around the country are even more at risk than those in kabul, and at risk of being able to get some place where they can be evacuated out
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of the country, if there are applicants who make the cut, so we have also got to bear that in mind, and as ambassador crocker says to some extent, the taliban are going to have to let this happen, and while we have turkish forces who are going to guard the airport in kabul, we know that the taliban can be very disruptive, and pose a threat to all of the operations that we might continue to have in afghanistan. so, thinking about how we can actually execute the movement of people outside of the country to a third country and to protect them when they are in that country for a period of time until that application is processed is a whole different challenge. >> so i want to get to several questions that i have been posed while taking advantage of your
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presence, senator, and one is from my friend bill sweeney who is an affiliate here and a retired cifos, and congress is not going to be in session from august through september, and what safe passage can be had. and that is maybe for senator shaheen, but a couple on the table. this is from princeton university, what is the visas for girls and women, given they are half of the population, and from my friend annie who is from cis and retired foreign service officer, refugee status is a huge step, and brain drain and how can they find interim of human rights defenders to stay with the knowledge to leave if they are threatened such as education-related visas, and maybe that is for ambassador jacobs and maybe jill to take on, and so senator shaheen, i am
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not expecting you the take on all three of those questions, but a chance to react to any of the three, and then the rest of the panel to take on any of those three questions, but senator shaheen, a chance for a first step. >> thank you. with respect to congressional action, we are in a place to have the potential for congress to act before the august recess. we are working on the national defense bill which is going to be, maed up next week. there is going to be a provision in that to address sivs, and we expect a separate provision already in an appropriations bill on the table, and the house has passed out of the relevant committee their bill that has many of the things that i have talked about a little lower number in terms of applicants, but certainly an expedited process that should help us. we also need to provide the funding. so i am cautiously optimistic
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that there is strong bipartisan support and a sense of urgency of a need to get this done and to provide the funding and to make sure that we can expedite the current legislation to make it address this crisis situation. i want to also speak to the situation for afghan women and girls, because the point that is being raised how many of these sivs are women and girls is a disproportionately low number, because most of the folks who helped our military, interpreters, the logistics people, and the people who have been covered historically und the siv process has been men, and my biggest fear in addition to helping those people who have helped us is what is going to happen to the women and girls in afghan, because we know what the taliban's position is, and where they have control of the provinces, they have already put back in place very restrictive
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shariah laws that make it difficult that don't allow girls to go to school in most cases, and don't allow women to work or freedom of movement for women, and this is a huge issue and something that the united states needs to continue to speak out loud and clear and in the international arena about, a we need to continue to do everything that we can to support efforts to help the women and girls in afghanistan. >> okay. i also want you to hear, senator shaheen, and i am not necessarily asking you to respond about this, and hoping to hear the other panels, but this is from arria, and this is my question that we all know that siv process is broken and they have denied lots of people who were faithful with working with the u.s., and i'm interpreting a little bit of this, include mig father, and so what is the future of those who have missing documents because
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they can't find their supervisors? are we going to leave those folks behind? so i am not asking you, senator shaheen, to answer that question, but what about ambassador jacobs or jill, can you take that on specifically while we have senator shaheen listening on that specific question. >> okay. i will take a stab at it, and then i'll let jill answer anything that she has, and basically yes, people have been denied sivs because they are missing documentation, or the security check turned up something unexpected and for those who have been denied, there is an appeal process, and not for those who have been denied for security reasons, but for the beginning stages, the chief of mission approval process, and they can appeal, and if at that time, they can present the missing documentation or other evidence that meets requirements, they
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are able to do so. but this is something that as i mentioned earlier, it is going to happen with all of those people on the pipeline. the vast majority will be issued eventually, but there is going to be a few who are denied. that is, that just sort of to nature of the visa process. jill, i don't know if you have anything to add to that. >> jill? >> yes, i would. we are quite aware of the denial rate because of the systemic issues with the siv process, and so that is why we are advocating for evacuation to guam or u.s. territory where the individuals would be able to access other forms of protection if they were, if their cases are denied and they would be able to access legal counsel to help them through the application process. those who are represented and have legal counsel or assistance
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with the application have a much greater application approval rate that is why we are calling on the evacuation to a place of not only safety, but also that would respect the rights of the individual applicants. i would also say with respect to other vulnerable places to receive protection, many other afghans fleeing persecution in countless lives of afghans who do not qualify for siv or other afghan refugees and other afghans in the united states who are in grave danger following this withdrawal. we are one of the many members to biden administration to open and expedite the pathways such as utilizing the u.s. family resettlement, and humanitarian
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parole programs to make sure that afghans are not left behind, and for example, we have asked the humanitarian parole pursuant to unani for significant humanitarian or public benefit, and these programs should also be established for individuals at risk for journalists and humanitarians and at risk women and children to give them expedited access and processing. >> senator shaheen, do you want to react to anything that you have just heard? >> no, but to agree with jill. i think it is very important for us to look at other ways to help those people who may not qualify under the siv process, but who are in danger because they worked with us in various other capacities, and again, to reiterate, this is a real crisis
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situation, and so we have to be creative about how we address it, and recognize that the bureaucracy may have originally been set up because of certain circumstances. but, this is a situation now where we have to look for ways to make the bureaucracy work to help those people who are in danger. >> but let me add one more question and then i want to bring in ambassador wayne, crocker and jacobs. the focus has been on sivs. is consideration going to be processing afghans of interest of refugees or parole, and this is from michael island who is the former refugee coordinator in bangkok in 2003. and so let me have you respond to any of the questions including the last one put on the table. >> thank you, dan, and thanks to everybody. senator, thank you for all that you have done, also. and jill, thanks for all that you are doing now, you and your
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colleagues, and of course for ryan, who has been a voice of reason on afghan for a long time. and i have talked to an afghan woman in afghanistan who is running a program for young women to provide them with education, and she said that basically, she said, look, we are all very concerned about the future and it is a very emotional time about what the taliban are doing, and going back to old practices in the districts they have taken over, and burning the schools and books and making girls and women can't come out unless they are covered. on the other hand, we don't want the taliban to win. we want to stay and do all we can to preserve the afghanistan that we have and make it better. so her bottom line was basically
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please prepare ways that if worse comes to worse, you can help us, but right now give us, you know, give us what we need to sustain ourselves also. so be supportive of us where we are, and be prepared to help us if we need that extra help in the future, but we want to keep afghanistan that we know now of diversity of the more rights for women and children, because all of us who right now are the leaders, and we can't take all of the kids with us, all of the girls with us. we want and we care for them. >> and ambassador crocker, i would love to bring you into this and then ambassador jacobs. >> thanks. i would just add my own voice to the issue of afghan women and girls. that was a very early part of the effort in afghanistan, and we had the schools early up and
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running in 2002, and then chairman biden came to visit and i was the host. he referred to that in the remarks last week, and is that part of the nation building that the president believes that we should not be doing, because we made education of girls a priority? when i got to afghanistan the first time in the beginning the of '02, there were 900,000 students in afghan schools, and all of them were boys. when i left afghanistan for the last time as ambassador in 2012, we were talking about 8 million students, and 35% girls. so now what? those girls, those women stepped forward because we were saying in effect, if you step forward in education, in the business, in the military and journalism, and if you step forward, we have got your back, except that is then and this is now, and oh, my goodness, look at the time, and we have to be going.
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in addition to the obligation that we have had and continue to have for folks who served us directly, i believe that we have a profound obligation to again to the females in afghanistan who were ready to reshape afghan society. we are not walk out on them, and it is the consequences as we have heard, it is not going the be pretty. the taliban have been pretty clear on what they are going to do and not in statements, but in actions, and this is quite foreseeable. so it is pretty tough to figure out what meaningful action is if you have given up your leverage which we have pretty much, but, boy, oh, boy, we have to be in overdrive as the senator suggested about what we can do to protect and say for those who helped us directly, and all roads in society in afghanistan, because our presence and our
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commitment. so we have to figure out what is next, and what is next is most definitely cannot be hesitant. >> ambassador, i would like to bring you in. >> from the last set of comment, it sound likes a good number of people who don't want to leave afghanistan and they want to stay there and create the society on that they envisioned is more diverse, and certainly more freedoms for women and girls. for the option of leaving, we have the siv process, and we have heard a lot today about how complicated that is. other options, and of course, depends what airports are open, and you could establish a
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refugee program in afghanistan and that could identify the people being persecuted and need to leave the country, and then joe mentioned the humanitarian pool, and that is another option that is under the authority of the department of homeland security, and i will say that traditionally humanitarian parole has not been used to move large groups of people. it is usually something that is used sparingly, but it is not to say that it could not be used to move women and girls that are part of the program, so there are options, but what i am hearing today is that what can the u.s. do to help those who want to stay, but to continue to
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improve afghan society and be more inclusive, and certainly continue with rights for women and girls. and that, i don't have an answer for. i don't know if anyone else has comments on that. >> jill? >> may i add something about this concept of choice because during the president's remarks on the afghanistan winddown last thursday, he repeated what we believe is a false claim which is that half of the afghans who did not want to come to the united states, and are remaining in afghan by choice. we were really shocked and saddened to hear that claim made as it does not comport at all in serving the siv and visa holders from our experience and our allies want desperately to come
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to the united states as they have often been tracked by the taliban in their own neighborhoods. however, the tickets for the few commercial flights out of afghanistan are often cost prohibitive for most afghans who have been fortunate enough, the few, to secure a visa. for those who cannot afford flights, we have to wait for the oim flight. in the past, it could take months for those flights to be scheduled, and it is what causes the daylight between the visa issuance and the arrival in the united states. when siv recipients arrive via the iom flight, they can be connected with us and the resettlement agency. we will pick them up at the airport and arrange for modest housing, and help them to integrate, and this is the welcome group that we are doing, and in fact, today, we are welcoming a family of 12 in one
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of the locations, and honored to be doing that. this concept of choice needs to be critically reviewed for sure. and particularly as the narrative concerns zif applicants. and let me add another siv application, the consequence of the employment on or by behalf of the u.s. government, are the requirement that supervisors must explain a serious threat, and this is from jackie duclos from csis global. ambassador jacobs? >> i am not aware of any, again,
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any new development with the applicants having to make a statement of what the threat is that they are experiencing. so i am not aware of any change to that. >> okay. ambassador wayne? >> well, i mean, i am sure that the change in the security situation in afghanistan itself is going to change the argument that the applicants can make, and strengthen the argument if they come from areas that are no longer under government control. so, yes, i am sure that is part of it. i wanted to say that right now, we are looking at the siv question at this time. but as ambassador crocker said, and as others have talked about and written about eloquently, this is still a time when we need to be investing heavily as
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a government in diplomatic and assistance support for the government in kabul. they do still need security assistance. they need financial assistance, and they need diplomatic assistance. we should be having all of the countries of the region, and as many as we can get and others sending clear messages to the taliban to seek a peaceful solution to this and to accept the other parts of the society in afghanistan that don't share their views, and so far, they have not done, that and they have not indicated any willingness to do that and part of the whole initial agreement that the united states negotiated with the taliban had as part of that they were going to have a dialogue with the government in kabul. that dialogue really has gotten nowhere. it had not been serious.
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i am sure right now, it is in recent weeks and months, less serious. even though it is not as much leverage as we would have had, as ambassador crocker made clear, and did we still have all of the tools and the troops there, we still need to use all of the leverage that we do have which is the fact that afghanistan gets 80% of its money to function from international donors. that is not going to change in the future, and people are not going to want to give money to a government that oppresses big chunks of the population. plus, you could have massive humanitarian needs emerging over the months ahead. right now, over 2.5 million afghan refugees outside of the country, a you could see those numbers soar in a chaotic
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situation in the weeks and months ahead. >> ambassador crocker, i would love to bring you into the situation. >> you to unmute. >> sir, you are on mute. you're on. >> so, what tony said, of course, it is something that we all aspire to, and people doing the right thing, and well, this is frankly not going to happen, that the taliban have been clear on what their agenda is, and this is the same taliban that chose to give up power and give up the country rather than turn over to us, the al qaeda leadership that perpetrated 9/11. so to say that they must now
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negotiate and that they have already won, and that is simply not going to happen. look, this is where we are now and that had been set when the trump administration agreed to sit down with the taliban without the afghan government in the room, and the long-standing taliban demand, and we acceded to it, and in doing so, legitimized the afghan government and legitimized the taliban and that was right from the start, but on one level, i was not terribly surprised and not sure that i expected anything better from the trump administration. i did expect better from the biden administration, and boy, has that been a crushing disappointment, because he has outtrumped trump. he made the decision to get us
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all of the way out. so it is quite a shock to hear him actually make that decision. now he owns this policy. i think that he is going to regret it, and it is going to be a permanent stain. >> i want to give folks a thought of the immediate next steps to take over the next three or two weeks to the next three months. so, jill, let me start with you, and each of you go around the table, next three weeks to two months. jill? >> i would like to see the evacuation flights start now to get people to guam. the guam leadership said they are ready, willing and able to welcome our allies who have served. they have done it before. there is precedent for it. and they have frankly have the hotel space, et cetera, to welcome our allies. so i would like to see those flights taken right this very
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minute, and no reason to delay any further for that. >> ambassador wayne, what needs to happen in the next two weeks to three months? >> well, we do need to move vigorously with the evacuation process, and the processing of the others and not only those in the pipeline, but those who have legitimate cases to be considered and many of those, and a lot of people got bumped out for questionable reasons, and imperfect information and that needs to be really an active process. secondly, we need to find the ways to get support into kabul and others and both humanitarian support, and economic support and military support, and hopefully there is going to be a rallying together to help hold this situation and get us back to a position where there can be more serious engagement to get to peace. and then third, we need to
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develop our contingency planning for those who are going to need assistance both humanitarian assistance when they are on the move in the country or out of the country, but also those who worked very closely with us if not, but for us in those contingency situations, and those who want to right now work and preserve the values that they believe in. but we have to be ready to help them no matter what evolves it seems to me. >> and ambassador jacobs, what needs to happen over the next two to three months? >> well, i would say any efforts by congress to streamline the siv process are welcomed. so hopefully senator shaheen talked about a number of measures, and hopefully those are going to get through, and i agree with jill that we need to move people as soon as possible. i understand the security
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reasons that the white house doesn't want to talk a lot about countries that we are talking to, and all of that, but i would eventually say they will have to make public the evacuation plan and where these people are going, and then for consular affairs and then homeland security, they will have to figure out a surge program in order to have, have sufficient resources to process large numbers of people, and hopefully more quickly than has happened in the past. i have to say, i am hoping they have brought russ travers on board so that he can help to speed up the security vetting, and the so-called administrative processing that takes place, because that really has been one of the major bottlenecks. that is of course going to depend upon a lot of different agencies, also, throwing the
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sufficient resources at the issue and moving more quickly. >> ambassador crocker, i will give you the last word. >> two points. first, treat this as the emergency it is with respect to those who serve us. all of the changes to the siv processing, important stuff, and it is not going to help now. we have to resort to emergency measures. we need to drop requirements for all 14 or 13 boxes to have been checked. we need to get the people to safety, and then sort it out. second point, we need to do something concrete to show that we do indeed support afghan national security forces, because it is not just the troops leaving, our contractors leave with them. and the afghan air force cannot function without contracted support. so the administration needs to move right now to produce a
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different scope of work, and to get the contractors back into the country particularly for the air force so they they can again have air support for the deployments, but most significantly to show that we really mean it when we say that we are not completely backing out of this. it is as important for moral as it is for operational exodus. >> our time is up. thank you, everybody and thank you so much for doing this today. we will continue to do this, and we could not do this without all of the great panelists, and thank you so much, and we will end it here. thank you. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these television companies and more. including midco. ♪♪
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>> midco support c-span as a public service along with these other television providers giving a front row seat to democracy. sunday, c-span series january 6th, views from the house continues. three more members of congress share stories of what they saw, heard, experienced that day. including representative rodney davis of illinois who served as a teller for the vote count that day. >> there were a lot of freshmen that day that i got to know in orientation that day, and this is the first real experience as a member of congress, and so we were kind of watching them, and talking to my fellow colleagues about what we could try to do to stop this. >> what were the conversations like? tell us about them. >> i remember a conversation that i had with marjorie taylor green. marjorie was a freshman and very
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active in the orientation. and she was very upset about what was going on. her and i chatted and she said, what can i do, and said go back to the cloak room, and put a video on the social media and if you have any influence ask them to stop, and she did that. and also, more testimony for views from the house sunday on up next, testimony from xavier becerra's health and human services secretary


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