The senior US diplomat informed the Home International Affairs Committee that steps the administration is contemplating embody requesting Congress to extend the variety of visas for these Afghans and the potential for humanitarian parole – a standing that enables to those that are instantly threatened to hunt refuge within the US.
“We’re contemplating each choice,” mentioned the highest US diplomat.
However Blinken didn’t supply a direct reply when lawmakers urged him to think about evacuating the 1000’s of Afghans awaiting particular immigration visas to a 3rd nation the place they might be protected whereas they waited for visas.
Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas, the Republican chief of the committee, referred to as on the Biden administration to evacuate any particular person in Afghanistan who has reached a “important stage” within the means of checking for a particular immigrant visa in a 3rd nation. awaiting approval, and urged Blinken for particulars on how the administration is dealing with this problem because the 9/11 withdrawal deadline is simply months away.
“Mr. Secretary, time is operating out and the Taliban are on the march. Which is why I ask this administration to evacuate any one that has reached a major stage within the safety screening course of in a 3rd nation to complete their processing of the seen earlier than america completes its army retrograde. The time for clichés and imprecise guarantees is over, “McCaul informed Blinken. “We’d like motion, and we want it yesterday.”
Advocates who’ve urged the administration to hurry up this course of say Blinken’s commitments aren’t sufficient.
“Processing 1,000 SIVs per 30 days does not get the CEO even near getting everybody out by September. At that price, it might nonetheless take a yr and a half earlier than processing your complete backlog,” mentioned James Miervaldis, president of the group. No One Left Behind, which describes itself as a volunteer group working to assist particular immigrant visa recipients.
On the Pentagon, Normal Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the US central command, which oversees the Center East area, informed reporters on Monday throughout a phone briefing that the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is “about midway via.”
“We’re in control and he is doing very nicely,” McKenzie mentioned. Requested if there’s a level the place the army must decide to start out evacuating Afghan visa candidates or if it could actually achieve this even after September, he mentioned: “We may have the flexibility to train no matter order we’re given. . Clearly it’s simpler at instances than others, however the US army has appreciable capabilities for such a factor. We will do no matter it takes, every time it’s wanted. ”
He additionally famous that the administration had a finances of 26,000 visas and used 15,000, leaving it with 11,000 visas to accommodate the 18,000 candidates nonetheless being processed.
“We ask on your assist in including 8,000 to our roof in order that we are able to accommodate everybody and thus be capable of come again to you if we want extra,” Blinken mentioned.
Whereas lawmakers anxious aloud concerning the destiny of Afghan interpreters and others who’ve helped america, Blinken mentioned the rise in violence in opposition to these searching for particular immigrant visas might not happen instantly after U.S. troops left the nation and argued that america will nonetheless have important affect.
“Don’t withdraw from Afghanistan”
“Despite the fact that we’re withdrawing our forces, we aren’t withdrawing from Afghanistan,” Blinken informed a Home appropriations subcommittee on Monday afternoon. “We’re decided to assist a robust embassy presence, applications to assist Afghanistan, its individuals and its authorities, financial growth, humanitarian, safety forces. All of that can stay. We’re working with different companions to guarantee that keep that approach, and that we stay deeply dedicated to supporting the federal government, to supporting the individuals. “
“And no matter occurs in Afghanistan, if there’s a important deterioration in safety, it may very nicely occur, we have now mentioned it earlier than, I do not assume it is going to occur from Friday to Monday,” Blinken informed the subcommittee on appropriations, “so I might not determine essentially the departure of our forces in July, August or early September with some type of instant deterioration of the state of affairs “.
CNN’s Ellie Kaufman and Corey James contributed to this report.