Senators Hickenlooper, Bennet urge Biden administration to protect Afghani women

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A Taliban fighter sits on the back of a vehicle with a machine gun in front of the main gate leading to the Afghan presidential palace, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. The U.S. military has taken over Afghanistan’s airspace as it struggles to manage a chaotic evacuation after the Taliban rolled into the capital. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

DENVER– Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennett and John Hickenlooper joined 44 Senate members to encourage the Biden administration to take quick action in protecting Afghani women leaders now endangered due to the Taliban’s control of Kabul.

The senators wrote a bipartisan letter addressing Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to create a humanitarian parole category for the protection of women leaders, activists, human rights defends, parliamentarians, journalists and those who are members of the Female Tactical Platoon of the Afghan Special Security Forces. They also requested a streamlining of all paperwork in order to relocate these individuals to the United States, should that be necessary.

“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,” Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper and other senators wrote in the letter.

They continued, “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.”

The senators also asked the Biden administration to increase U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processing capacity and put an interagency refugee coordinator in place.

“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,” wrote the senators in their letter. “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 border crossings now closed or controlled by the Taliban.”  

To read the full letter, click here.

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