August 25, 2021
The self-described democratic socialist said in an interview that she supports raising the number of available Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) to 200,000 as tens of thousands of Afghans who assisted coalition forces and others who are vulnerable to Taliban reprisal struggle to flee the country.
“I believe we need to move, and the administration needs to move as quickly as possible and as expansively as possible, ensuring that we are raising the amount of refugee visas to whatever amount is necessary,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Independent.
“I would say the rock bottom is 200,000, but I think it should be whatever is necessary,” she added. “And that needs to be expedited as soon as possible.”
The U.S. has 34,500 visa slots under the SIV program for Afghans, but lawmakers on the left and right are trying to increase that number. Ocasio-Cortez voted in favor of successful House legislation last month that would increase the number by 8,000, but it has not yet been taken up by the Senate, which has its own steps to move legislation to bolster the program.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the Biden administration expects SIV applicants and other Afghans seeking to evacuate the country to safely reach Kabul’s airport, despite the Taliban’s warning that it would no longer allow Afghans to leave.
“Our expectation, and what we will continue to convey directly through a range of channels we have, is that the individuals, the Special Immigrant Visa applicants, those who are eligible, those who we are facilitating their departure, will be able to reach the airport,” Psaki said.