August 16, 2019

Amid Taliban Talks, Moulton Urges President Trump to Step up for Afghan Translators & Direct State Department to Bring Afghan Allies to Safety

SALEM, Mass.—Today, as President Trump convenes his national security advisors for an update on a potential peace deal with the Taliban, Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA) made the following statement:

“The translators who risked their lives to protect Americans in Afghanistan are heroes--brothers and sisters to many who fought there. If we leave them behind, the Taliban will kill them,” Moulton said. “President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad must protect Afghan translators. Regardless of whatever peace agreement they negotiate with the Taliban, we know better than to trust the Taliban to keep our translators safe. It’s up to us to ensure their safety after they risked their lives, not just for Afghanistan, but for America.” Rep Moulton added, “Further, the State Department must expedite Special Immigrant Visa processing; the process is moving too slowly because of the president’s war on immigrants, and it will move even slower if the size of the State Department’s mission is reduced after a peace deal—which is backwards. We should be increasing our diplomatic presence if we withdraw troops. Congress must expand the number of visas the United States will provide now so these brave men and women are guaranteed the safety that’s only found within our borders.”

Nearly 20,000 Afghans are still caught in the backlog for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. Earlier this year, Moulton worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce H.R. 2796, the Afghan Allies and Protection Act to expand the number of Special Immigrant Visas.

Moulton also offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to expand the number of visas granted. While the amendment did not advance because of funding issues, the House and Senate will meet in this Fall to resolve differences between the two versions of the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a modest expansion of SIVs. The Fiscal Year 2019 Omnibus Spending bill also included about 3,500 SIVs.

Moulton takes this fight personally. While serving in Iraq, he formed a close bond with an Iraqi translator, Mohammad Harba. The duo hosted one of the first television shows in the post-Hussein Iraq, called Moulton and Mohammad. As reported by Boston.com, Moulton’s parents hosted Harba in Moulton’s childhood home until Habra received asylum.