Rep Josh Harder and U.S. contract worker share need for more visas

As the United States withdraws its troops from Afghanistan, the United States House voted to open new visas for Afghan men and women who assisted American forces there during the 20 Years War.

MODESTO, Calif .– The United States House of Representatives voted Thursday to open new visas for the men and women who have assisted U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Allies Act of 2021 will increase the special immigrant visa cap by 8,000 visas to ensure that Afghan allies and their families can safely enter the United States in the weeks and months to come.

It comes as Washington is withdrawing American forces from the country and Afghans who have worked with the United States face threats of violence from the Taliban and other groups.

“Those who work for the United States in Afghanistan are putting their lives and the lives of their families at risk,” said Amina Adel, who worked for an American contractor in Afghanistan before moving to Modesto with her husband, Basir, and two daughters Helya and Hela, in 2020.

Adel said her family faced several threats when her neighbors found out she was working with the United States

“They started following me, then they arrested my husband,” Adel said. “So it’s not just my life in danger, it’s the lives of my whole family that is in danger.”

Before the Adels gained entry to the United States on a special immigrant visa, they were forced to move apartments in Kabul, change cars, and change girls’ schools.

“Thousands of Afghan men and women have agreed to risk their lives to help our troops during the war in Afghanistan,” said Representative Josh Harder (CA-10), who voted for the bill.

Representative Harder personally helped reunite the Adel family – although Amina and Basir Adel were allowed to enter the United States, their daughters were not initially allowed to join them. The Adel family reunited just days before travel restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic took effect in March 2020.

The Adel family calls the Allies and Visa Enlargement Act a “good start,” but say there are thousands of other Afghan families facing similar threats. For now, Helya and Hela can look forward to a brighter future in the United States.

“One said, ‘I’ll be a doctor,’ and the other said, ‘I’ll be a teacher,'” Adel said.

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