(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
WASHINGTON - The US State Department said on Thursday it will soon run out of visas for interpreters and other Afghans who have worked for the US government during the decade and a half that US forces have been engaged in the country.
At least one US senator, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, said any decision to let the program lapse sends a message to allies in Afghanistan that the United States is not supporting them. She pledged to immediately introduce legislation to provide more visas.
"It's both a moral and practical imperative that Congress right this wrong immediately," Shaheen said in a statement.
Her office said more than 10,000 applicants are still in the process of obtaining visas.
Shaheen and Republican Senator John McCain led a failed effort last year to pass legislation extending to 4,000 more people an existing special immigrant visa program for Afghans who assisted US forces, often risking their lives.
The National Defense Authorization Act passed late last year added 1,500 visas to the program, while tightening requirements for eligibility.