Assemblyman Jeff Gorell Renews State Legislature’s Request for Expedited Immigration Visas for Afghan Interpreters

Sacramento, CA – Responding to last week’s Congressional approval of a measure to grant an additional 1,000 immigration visas to Afghan interpreters who have worked with the U.S. military, California State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) today thanked the Senate and House for their bipartisanship, but reminded national legislators that we must do more to expedite the thousands of applications that have left many of our proud allies stranded among enemy terrorists still seeking to harm them.

“During both of my deployments to Afghanistan, I worked alongside Afghan nationals who bravely stood up to Taliban and Al Qaida subjugation, helping break the grip terrorist networks had upon Afghanistan,” stated Assemblyman Gorell. “These dedicated Afghanis risked their lives for our troops, and made it possible for us to complete our day-to-day missions. We must do what we can to protect our Afghan allies from terrorist retribution.”

Last year the state legislature approved Assembly Joint Resolution 22, a measure authored by Assemblyman Gorell calling upon the President and Congress to broaden and expedite immigration visas for Afghan nationals who risked their lives employed in support of United States troops in the War on Terror. The resolution pointed out that the federal Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 allows for the issuance of up to 7,500 visas, however only about 1,000 of those had been issued, with a backlog of more than 5,000 applicants waiting to begin the process.

“Expanding the number of visas available to the Special Immigrant Visa program is important because there are still many people who have proven their friendship and deserve the opportunity to come to America,” added Gorell. “But it is even more important that the process be expedited.”

With the drawdown of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Taliban and other insurgents are deliberately targeting the Afghan nationals who’ve worked with American forces, attacking them and their families. The United Nations has reported last year that casualties resulting from the targeted killings of these civilians have increased significantly. In December of 2012, an interpreter in Jalalabad was heading home on leave when Taliban assailants attacked, killing his two brothers.

Assemblyman Gorell currently serves as a Commander and intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and has completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan.