WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: First Flight of Operations Allies Refugee

President Biden on Friday welcomed to the United States the first Afghans and their families relocated as part of Operation Allies Refuge who are eligible for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV). The first flight arrived on Friday morning, continuing to deliver the U.S. promise to the thousands of Afghan nationals who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops and diplomats over the last 20 years in Afghanistan. 

President Biden thanked the brave Afghans that stood with the United States, including translators and interpreters and reiterated that the U.S. will continue to support the Afghan people through security assistance, humanitarian and development aid, and diplomatic support for the peace process.

See below for what they are saying:
 
Members of Congress
 
Senate Foreign Relations: “Grateful for the efforts of Afghans who served alongside our forces & worked with U.S. diplomats. We have a moral obligation to those facing persecution because of their support & I am proud to welcome them to the U.S.” [Tweet, 7/30/21] 
Senator Jeanne Shaheen:  “Afghan allies risked their lives for the U.S. mission and the future of their country. Now they face imminent danger from the Taliban.
Tonight, Afghans and their families will arrive in the U.S.  Getting them to safety is a critical step to keep our promise to our allies. [Tweet, 7/30/21] 
Senator Tim Kaine:  “This morning, a group of 250 Afghan interpreters and their families landed at Dulles and headed to Fort Lee to begin their transition to life in the US after aiding our military efforts. Glad to be with @votevets marking this important step.” [Tweet, 7/30/21] 
Senator Tammy Duckworth:  “Our Afghan interpreters and those who worked with our troops have fought alongside us, bled for us, carried our troops out of harm’s way—doing all this before even becoming American citizens.  We owe it to them to #TakeThemToo.  [Tweet, 7/30/21] 
Representative Jason Crow:  “As the first plane of Afghan evacuees arrives in the U.S., Congress just passed legislation that includes core components of our HOPE Act & ALLIES Act.  The Honoring our Promises Working Group has led efforts to protect our Afghan partners because we know we must #TakeThemToo.” [Tweet, 7/30/21] 
Representative Don Young: “I want to extend a warm welcome to the first group of Afghan partners through the Special Immigrant Visa program. As joyous as this occasion is, we have more work ahead of us to finish the job. America stands by our allies, and it’s on us to keep our promise.” [Tweet, 7/30/21] 
Representative Lizzie Fletcher: “Great to see this happening so quickly after Congress passed legislation to cut down on Afghan SIV processing wait times. As more arrive in the coming months, I hope our community and our country will welcome them, honoring our commitment to our allies.” [Tweet, 7/30/21] 
 
Groups
 
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: “Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) proudly welcomes the first group of Special Immigrant Visa Afghans and their families under Operation Allies Refuge to the United States. This lead wave of approximately 200 is a testament to the Biden administration’s recognition that, in light of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, an urgent response is needed to ensure that America keeps its promise to the thousands of Afghan allies who provided vital support to the US mission in their country.
 
IAVA applauds the government response to act with urgency to ensure the safety of our allies. We also must renew our call to ensure that, even as some arrive safely to the United States, it is not forgotten that there remain tens of thousands of Afghan allies and their families who are in grave danger yet do not yet have a clear or viable path to the US. Even as we welcome today’s arrivals to their new home, we must not forget that the US remains a long way from fulfilling its promise.
 
“This is not simply a matter of keeping the promise that the United States made throughout our two decade presence in Afghanistan”, said IAVA CEO Jeremy Butler. “It is also to ensure that future potential allies of the US know that the country keeps its commitments and is a trusted and honorable partner.” [Full Statement, 7/30/21] 
Common Defense: “Today, we applaud President Biden as he begins to fulfill his promise to the American people and, more importantly, to our allies abroad. With the first group of Afghan SIVs landing in the U.S. this morning, we breathe a sigh of relief as the process to safely evacuate our allies begins.
 
“To the Afghan heroes that recently landed, we welcome you to the U.S. and extend our deep gratitude to you for your service and sacrifice alongside our troops. Our debt to you is priceless, and we seek to support you in this transition to a new home—one we hope provides a sense of security after the trials you’ve faced to make it here.” [Full Statement, 7/30, 21] 
VoteVets: “Joe Biden, just like Senator Kaine, understands that bringing an end to a war means more than withdrawing U.S. military personnel…It means more than bringing equipment back home. It’s about keeping our promises.” – @will_c_fischer, VoteVets [Tweet, 7/30/21] 
Stephen Miles, Win Without War: “We at Win Without War wish a heartfelt welcome to those SIV recipients making landfall in the United States today, and a thank you to the Biden administration for making the right choice to provide them with the safety and refuge that they deserve.
 
“The United States’ twenty-year endless war in Afghanistan has led directly to the deaths of tens of thousands of Afghans and the displacement of millions more, while bringing the country no closer to peace or stability. There is no military solution to the violence in Afghanistan, and President Biden’s decision to end it was the right one. Now, we owe it to the victims of that war — and especially those put in danger for their collaboration with the United States — to do all that we can to provide them the security that decades of military occupation could not.” [Full Statement, 7/30/21] 
Camille Mackler, Truman Center: “The Biden Administration’s effort to bring Afghan allies to the US is commendable, and a welcome first step in ensuring that our country fulfills its promise to leave no one behind while protecting those who fought alongside us. If the United States wants to maintain a position of global leadership, and uphold respect from our allies around the world, it needs to continue this policy of supporting those who have supported us in the conflict. By the time the military withdrawal is complete, we hope that all will have been moved to safety.” [Full Statement, 7/30/21] 
Student Veterans of America: “The SVA community welcomes the first arriving Afghan interpreters and their families to the United States.” [Tweet, 7/30/21] 
International Rescue Committee: “The U.S. has begun relocating a group of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants—people who risked their lives assisting the U.S.—to Virginia. We’ll be working alongside partner agencies to ensure they have a chance to rebuild their lives.” [Tweet, 7/30/21]

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