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American Legion hails start of Operation Allies Refuge, Calls for Evacuations to Pick Up Pace

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2021) –  American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford called the safe evacuation of Afghan allies from danger “a truly welcome sight,” but added that his organization would like to see the pace pick-up dramatically as American forces leave that country.

“We certainly welcome the evacuation of  approximately 2,500 Afghan allies and family members that comprise the first priority group of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants,” Oxford said. “But we have also made clear to the Biden administration that far more still needs to be done. The American Legion believes that approximately 70,000 Afghan nationals face severe retribution by the Taliban because of assistance that they provided to U.S. troops. Many U.S. veterans tell us that their interpreters fought shoulder-to-shoulder with them and in many cases actually saved American lives. They have already been screened and have proven that they can be trusted. We must remember their loyalty and not abandon them to a ruthless and merciless enemy. We believe in Operation Allies Refuge and hope the pace can be picked up to match the levels we saw at the end of the Vietnam War.”

The American Legion passed a national resolution in 2018 asking for the president and Congress to prioritize the processing of SIVs for Afghan and Iraq interpreters and other allies.