As we mark the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul, we’re excited to share a series of reflections from Khalil Arab, a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipient and Combined Arms’ SIV & Allies Program Manager.
August 15, 2022 marks the first anniversary of Kabul’s fall and the collapse of the government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It also marks the anniversary of the United States’ efforts to evacuate Afghans who risked their lives, and those of their families, to assist the US Armed Forces in Afghanistan.
We at Combined Arms have supported the evacuation of our Special Immigrant Visa recipients (SIV) and other non-SIV Allies and their integration in Houston since 2019, well before the fall of Kabul. In June 2021, I joined Congressman Seth Molton and representatives from a number of Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) for a press conference in Washington, DC to call on the Biden Administration to immediately evacuate approximately 17,000 principle SIV applicants and their families, and all other allies who risked their lives to serve the US’ interest in Afghanistan.
We also held several meetings with elected officials including Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia and Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher at Combined Arms’ Houston headquarters. We expressed the concerns of our veteran community and proposed a multi-point action plan along with a number of locations where we wanted to see our SIVs & Allies to be evacuated.
Following the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021, unfortunately we witnessed the horrifying and gruesome images of desperate Afghans clinging to military aircrafts in order to leave Afghanistan under the Taliban. Thousands of at-risk-Afghans needed to be evacuated, and the US military and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces eventually took action and evacuated some of those at-risk-Afghans.
I started a coordinated effort, in collaboration with a US Department of State contact on the ground in Kabul, Afghanistan to facilitate the evacuation of a group of women out of Kabul. All these women were married to American citizens and/or Permanent Lawful Residents (LPR). On August 26, 2021, I successfully evacuated a group of eight women before reuniting them with their partners in the US. All have immersed themselves in the integration process and are working towards becoming the next generation of patriotic American citizens.
To learn more about Combined Arms' SIVs & Allies Program and get involved, click here.