Storella Discusses Trump’s Impact on SIV Processing

After the Taliban overtook Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, Afghan people climbed atop a plane on August 16, 2021, as thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport in an attempt to flee the country. Photo by Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Ambassador Mark C. Storella, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, published an op-ed in The Hill on Special Immigrant visas (SIV) processing and how a huge backlog of applications prevented Afghan partners from being evacuated from the country earlier.

In the article, titled “How Trump broke the system that offers protection to Afghan allies,” Storella describes his firsthand experience administering SIV at the United States embassy in Baghdad and how the process became bogged down by the Trump administration preventing the early evacuation of many Afghan allies. Between former President Trump’s “Muslim ban” as well as added duplicative and impractical vetting procedures, Storella said the administration “greatly increased the vetting workload and then starved the system of resources to do the job” resulting in hundreds fewer SIVs being issued. 

Today, the Biden administration has dispatched additional personnel to work on SIV processing and eliminate the “extreme vetting” processes established under former President Trump. While the system certainly saw delays due to COVID-19, Storella argues that “thousands of SIV applicants should have and could have been moved sooner if the Trump administration had not deliberately broken the SIV processing system.”

The full article can be read on The Hill‘s website.

Ambassador Mark C. Storella was a United States Foreign Service Officer for over three decades serving as Ambassador to Zambia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, and Dean of the Leadership and Management School of the Foreign Service Institute. Storella is recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Excellence in Service Award, the Thomas Jefferson Award presented by American Citizens Abroad, and several Department of State superior and meritorious honor awards. Learn more about Ambassador Storella on his faculty profile.