When Afghanistan returned to Taliban control in August 2021, over 76,000 Afghans were forced to flee their country and seek refuge in the United States. Many of the evacuees were Afghans who supported the US mission and operations in Afghanistan, as well as their families who would now face persecution under the Taliban government. After enduring a harrowing evacuation, they arrived in the US under humanitarian parole, a temporary immigration status that usually only last two years.
To gain permanent legal status, the parolees must typically go through the asylum system or Special Immigrant Visa process (SIV), both of which face severe backlogs and long processing times.
As Rebekah Niblock, staff attorney in the Immigrant Justice Program points out, “This process can be intimidating and confusing for asylum seekers, especially those with little to no English language skills, and options to secure legal representation are scarce. The asylum application process can re-traumatize applicants because they are required to tell their story of past persecution or describe their fear of future persecution if returned to their home country.”
Without a clear path to citizenship, many of these Afghans find themselves in legal limbo while they wait for their temporary protected status to expire. As they wait, they could lose their ability to find work, get health care, and ultimately to remain legally in the United States.
Why do we need an Afghan Adjustment Act?
Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in both house of Congress to establish a path to citizenship for the Afghans evacuated to the United States. Known as the Afghan Adjustment Act, the legislation would allow Afghans with temporary status that undergo additional vetting to apply for permanent legal residency. The Act would ensure Afghans have a path to legally stay in the United States, fulfilling a promise the United States pledged to keep them safe. After everything these Afghans endured, many of whom served alongside the US military for 20 years, we must protect them from facing an uncertain future.
Call or email your members of Congress and ask them to support the Afghan Adjustment Act.
Our partners at American Immigration Lawyers Association have created a sample letter and an easy way to directly contact your local members of Congress: AILA – AILA’s Advocacy Action Center