San Diego

Local leaders push for permanent residency for Afghan refugees

"Our Afghan allies not only earned a path to citizenship, but they deserve a path to citizenship," San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson said

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Dozens of veterans, Afghan refugees and elected representatives Thursday called on Congress to pass legislation to assist Afghans who worked with and for coalition forces in America's longest war to come to the United States.

The Afghan Adjustment Act is intended to enable newly arrived Afghans to go through the immigration process, undergo a robust vetting with all necessary security reviews, and have a path forward to lawful permanent residency here in the United States -- similar to laws passed for Vietnamese individuals in America following the Vietnam War.

"Our Afghan allies not only earned a path to citizenship, but they deserve a path to citizenship," said San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson at a news conference Thursday aboard the USS Midway Museum. "When we don't follow through on our promises, we hurt not only these Afghans but also the American people.

"I'm proud to stand with these people on this righteous cause. These aren't just refugees, they are our allies who stood with us, and it's time we stood with them," he said.

More than two dozen elected officials from both major parties wrote a letter to Congress on Wednesday urging federal action and efforts from Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, D- New York.

"We are standing on an aircraft carrier that traveled the world defending American interests and values, and itself played a part in aiding wartime allies," said Shawn VanDiver, Navy veteran and president of #AfghanEvac, referring the USS Midway's involvement evacuating American citizens and Vietnamese allies following the fall of Saigon.

"Today, we must continue to uphold those values -- especially our commitment to stand by our allies. These Afghans fought side by side with us through twenty years of war, and with this one bill we can start to repay the debt we owe them."

NBC 7's Priya Sridhar spoke to a volunteer whose home is jam packed with donations for refugees from Afghanistan.
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