Michael Waltz Wants to Extend Special Immigrant Visas for Kurds Who Helped Against ISIS

A Republican congressman from the Sunshine State wants to extend the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to Syrian Kurds fighting against Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Col., showcased the “Syrian Partner Protection Act” which “would extend the Special Immigrant Visa program to Syrian Kurdish fighters who assisted in counter-ISIS operations.” The bill is based on what the Bush administration offered allies in Afghanistan and Iraq who helped American military operations in those countries. Waltz, the first Green Beret to serve in Congress, served in Afghanistan.

Other backers of the bill, which Crow introduced, include U.S. Reps. Don Bacon, R-Maine, Earl Blumenauer, D-Oreg., Jim Langevin, D-RI, and Seth Moulton, D-Mass.

“The Syrian Kurds have stood side by side with the United States in the fight against ISIS,” Waltz said. “As a special forces officer, working with allies and fostering those relationships was critical to mission success. Our Kurdish allies put their lives and the lives of their families on the line, risking retaliation, to help us fight terrorism. They deserve our country’s gratitude.”

“The American handshake needs to mean something. This bill is about the promise we made to our partners, in this case, the men and women of the Syrian Democratic Forces, who have been our primary ally on the ground in the fight against ISIS,” said Crow. “As a former combat soldier, I know firsthand that the bedrock of our alliances are built on trust. The decision to leave Syria undermines the commitment we made to our Kurdish allies and the belief that we are a resolute ally. We must protect the friends who protected us.”

“It is critical that the United States doesn’t leave our Syrian-Kurdish allies vulnerable,” said Blumenauer. “I was proud to help create the Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa programs with Senator John McCain and I look forward to working with my colleagues to offer the same path to safety for this community.”

“Our Kurdish allies in Syria saved American lives and risked their own to protect Americans and our allies from ISIS,” Moulton said. “This bill is about showing that the American people have the backs of the people who keep us safe, and reassuring our allies that cooperating with Americans on the ground isn’t a death sentence.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary and the Foreign Affairs Committees.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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