WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the first female combat veteran elected to the U.S. Senate, today joined her colleagues in pressing the Biden Administration on details regarding the status and recovery methods of American citizens, green card holders, and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants in Afghanistan, including what measures the administration is taking to keep these people safe until they can get out of Afghanistan.
 
In a letter to President Biden, Ernst and her colleagues write, “We write regarding the humanitarian crisis created by your withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, and the safety and well-being of our fellow countrymen and allies that you left behind.”
 
They go on to say, “Our immediate priority is the safety and well-being of American citizens, permanent residents, and allies who were left behind in Afghanistan. We are also concerned by reports that ineligible individuals, including Afghans with ties to terrorist organizations or serious, violent criminals, were evacuated alongside innocent refugee families.”
 
The senators are requesting detailed answers to the following questions:
  1. How many American citizens does the administration believe to remain in Afghanistan?
  2. How many green-card holders does the administration believe to remain in Afghanistan?
  3. How many SIV applicants remain in Afghanistan?
  4. According to your administration, more than 50% of evacuated Afghans were not SIV applicants or their families. Of the more than 57,000 Afghans who are not American citizens, green-card holders, or SIV applicants or their families, how many had no pending immigration application or status with the United States prior to being airlifted?
 
To read the full letter, click here.
 
Background:
After President Biden ended the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, Senator Ernst issued a statement saying in part, “The president broke our promise to American citizens and to those who bravely served alongside us. The Taliban is celebrating… It is incumbent upon the president and this administration to be clear-eyed about what could result from this poorly planned and executed exit.”
 
In a letter to both the Secretaries of State and Defense last week, Ernst called on the Biden Administration to provide answers on the safety of American citizens and details on the plans to get them out of Afghanistan. Ernst also urged President Biden to fulfill his “solemn responsibility to evacuate all American citizens and Afghan partners without respect to arbitrary timelines dictated by the Taliban.”
 
Ernst’s bipartisan bill with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to provide immediate improvements to and strengthen the efficiency of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program was signed into law in July. Last week, Ernst and Shaheen led 53 of their colleagues in urging the administration to address the quickly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and implement the Ernst-Shaheen SIV bill.
 
###