GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — News that the Biden administration is making plans to swiftly evacuate thousands of civilians from Afghanistan in advance of U.S. troops leaving is welcome news to U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer.
Meijer, R-Grand Rapids, has been calling on President Joe Biden to protect interpreters and others who had helped Americans during the war two-decade war in Afghanistan.
“These were Afghan civilians who had signed up to either accompany U.S. patrols, identify who in their villages were Taliban, these are individuals who helped and assisted with interrogations, with handling sources … but all of which would part a target on their back,” Meijer explained.
Meijer said the special visa program designed to bring those people to the U.S. has always been slow, but that was less of a concern with U.S. boots still on the ground in Afghanistan. But with troops set to leave by the end of August, he said there must now be a sense of urgency.
“That is an essential thing, that we look after those individuals and we fulfill the promises made to them of bringing them here (to the U.S.),” Meijer said.
The Biden administration has now announced it is organizing flights to bring visa seekers close to approval stateside or move them to military bases or other nations in the Middle East while their application is processed.
“I’m slightly heartened that we are seeing a plan take shape,” Meijer said, “but again, our troops will be fully out of Afghanistan within six weeks’ time, so we need to make sure that we are moving quickly, that we don’t leave these Afghan civilians behind.”