New York lawmakers work to assist WNY residents, Afghan allies trapped in Afghanistan

New York News

(WIVB) — Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Chris Jacobs are working to get Afghan allies and Western New York residents stuck in Afghanistan — out.

After two decades of United States diplomatic and military intervention in Afghanistan, the country has fallen back into the control of the Taliban, the power shift coming two weeks before the U.S. was ready to complete its troop withdrawal.

Congressman Jacobs says his office is working to aid those he represents from NY-27 who are stuck in Afghanistan. NY-27 covers much of the eastern and southern suburbs of Buffalo, including many southern suburbs of Rochester.

Jacobs also says he’s trying to help Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants that may be in danger. SIV applicants are Afghans who were employed by or on behalf of the United States government. Those granted the visa are resettled in the United States as refugees.

“My office is actively helping individuals trapped in Afghanistan, and we stand ready to aid others in need,” Jacobs said. “We are working diligently to assist NY-27 constituents and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants who are in harm’s way in Afghanistan. If you are a petitioner or a family member of someone trapped or know of someone who is, I urge you to share this contact information and reach out to my office as soon as possible.” 

Those in need of assistance can contact Congressman Jacobs’ Geneseo District Office at (585) 519-4002 or the Clarence District Office at (716) 634-2324. An online form is available by clicking here.

Senator Gillibrand along with others has penned a letter to President Biden asking for the evacuation of Afghan SIV applicants and their families from the country. They’re also calling for full implementation of reforms to the Afghan Allies Protection Act. They say this would improve the accessibility and efficiency of the Special Immigrant Visa program.

“Specifically, we urge continued coordination between the Departments of State and Defense to secure and hold Hamid Karzai International Airport, including to allow for the continuation of military flights and the resumption of commercial and charter flights. We also urge your Administration to assist with the passage of individuals to the airport to safety – both those within Kabul and those outside of the capital – as well as to consider cases where Afghans fleeing quickly may not have been able to collect or gather appropriate documents,” the Senators wrote. 

“We were pleased that you immediately signed [our] legislation to make extensive improvements to the SIV program into law three weeks ago and now ask that you move just as quickly to ensure it is properly and fully implemented ensuring applicants and their families can get out of harm’s way.” 

To read the full letter, click here.

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