August 16, 2021

Cortez Masto Joins Bipartisan Group of Senate Colleagues Urging Biden Administration to Protect Afghan Allies and Women Leaders

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) issued a statement urging the Biden administration to focus on quickly and safely evacuating Americans and our allies following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. She also joined a bipartisan group of 45 of her Senate colleagues in calling on the Biden administration to take swift, robust action to protect and support Afghan women leaders.

“I am closely monitoring the situation unfolding in Afghanistan and remain focused on ensuring the Biden Administration safely and quickly evacuates Americans and our allies,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This must include the evacuation of interpreters who served alongside our service members and the Afghan women leaders who have spent the past two decades promoting democracy and equality.”

In a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Cortez Masto and her colleagues called on the Administration to create a humanitarian parole category specifically for women leaders, activists, human rights defenders, parliamentarians, journalists, and members of the Female Tactical Platoon of the Afghan Special Security Forces, and to streamline the paperwork process to facilitate referrals to allow for fast, humane, and efficient relocation to the United States.

“We and our staff are receiving regular reports regarding the targeting, threatening, kidnapping, torturing, and assassinations of women for their work defending and promoting democracy, equality, higher education, and human rights,” said the senators. “While we welcomed the expansion of the eligibility requirements for Special Immigrant Visas and the creation of the Priority 2 category in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, we must also protect those women who might fall through the cracks of the U.S. Government’s response. We greatly appreciate your efforts to help save the lives of Afghans who have advanced U.S. and Afghan joint interests over the last generation, standing for peace, democracy, and equality. We are all in agreement that we owe them our unqualified support.”

In addition to expressing their support for the Administration’s efforts to evacuate those who are applying for humanitarian parole and those applying for Priority 1 or 2 pathways, including by allocating seats for them on SIV evacuation flights, the senators urged the Administration to increase processing capacity within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and to immediately appoint an interagency refugee coordinator.

“Particularly for women who are currently targets—even hunted by Taliban fighters who are going house-to-house with their names—the path to protection and safety under the Priority 2 designation is not accessible,” the senators added. “While we understand there is little processing capacity at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, for these women to access a third country for processing is almost or completely impossible with all borders crossings now closed or controlled by the Taliban.” 

Find a copy of the letter HERE.