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Panel grants visas for Afghans who supported US

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jun 29, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel has voted to provide an additional 4,000 visas to allow Afghans who sided with the American-led coalition and are at risk of being killed by the Taliban to resettle in the United States.

The Appropriations Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a spending bill that included a provision granting the extra visas and extending the so-called special immigrant visa program for another year.

The Afghan civilians worked for the coalition as interpreters, firefighters and construction laborers.

But the militants considered them traitors and the top American commander in Afghanistan urged Congress to extend the visa program so they and their families could escape "grave consequences."

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire says many Afghans will face a "death sentence" if the program isn't extended.

The issue was brought to the forefront by comedian John Oliver in 2014. Oliver lampooned the US for not doing more to offer asylum to those who assisted the United States in overseas wars.