The Hill: We must stop excluding Afghan women and children from visa eligibility

Learn more about Ioanna Papas.
Ioanna Papas
Director, Communications
George W. Bush Institute

The United States is still not doing enough to protect vulnerable Afghan women and children six months after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

For years the Bush Institute has been advocating for the Afghan women and children who are often overlooked in U.S. policy. Natalie Gonnella-Platts, Director of the Women’s Initiative, and Laura Collins, Director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative, wrote an op-ed for The Hill outlining how the U.S. government’s latest plans for expediated screening should be adjusted to include Afghan women and children.


The interpreters and others who held roles currently eligible for SIVs stood with us throughout the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. They deserve to be protected for their service. But the professions outlined within the eligibility requirements are primarily dominated by men. And we cannot forget that women — although often in different roles — stood with us, too. 


We applaud the U.S. government’s efforts to resettle our Afghan allies as fast as possible, particularly given the capacity challenges in our immigration system. The staffing shortages and long backlogs are real. We respect that there are many people in line who are just as deserving of faster processing. 


But let’s broaden the scope of the administration’s current plan and open this expedited third-country processing to Afghan women, too. The more quickly they are securely processed and admitted to the United States, the faster they can begin to rebuild their lives. 


Excluding Afghan women from the administration’s Afghanistan policy, even unintentionally, is a reoccurring problem.”


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