Tell Congress to Pass an Afghan Adjustment Act and provide a Safe Existence to Afghan Evacuees
What issue does the Afghan Adjustment Act exist to solve? With the end of the United States military involvement in Afghanistan and the fall of the country’s capital of Kabul, the United States airlifted tens of thousands of Afghan persons, many of them children, to safety from persecution and violence. After experiencing often heartbreaking and harrowing ordeals to escape and secure safety for themselves and their families, most evacuees in the United States continue to live in legal limbo. They were typically granted initial protection through “humanitarian parole,” time-limited protection with no path to citizenship, and may be eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
What does an Afghan Adjustment Act do to fix this? The Afghan Adjustment Act allows certain Afghans who reside in the United States and have passed the requisite security checks a clear pathway to permanent status, circumventing the need for Afghan evacuees to go through the current inadequate processes to get permanent residency. In the past, the United States has implemented similar adjustments for those fleeing repression in Vietnam, Cuba, the USSR, and Iraq.
Why do we need an Afghan Adjustment Act now? Humanitarian parole and Temporary Protected Status are, by nature, temporary, so time is running out for the evacuees. It is urgent to provide them with a path to permanent status, so they are not in danger of deportation. Evacuees face struggles because of their current status, and the instability and isolation of the current situation have often taken a heavy mental toll. Their status must be changed as soon as possible to provide them stability and a chance to sponsor and reunite with family still in Afghanistan. Further, given the coming processing and resettlement of Ukrainian refugees, immediately finding a solution for the Afghan evacuees’ situation is necessary to prevent a further breakdown.
Why are current programs for Afghan evacuees inadequate? Right now, the Afghan evacuees' most plausible paths to permanent status are either the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) or the asylum program. The complex processes of applying for both these programs impose substantial burdens on evacuees, the government, and aid organizations and would likely exclude many Afghan evacuees.
The SIV program, designed for Afghans that worked directly or indirectly for the United States government, requires specific documentation often no longer available to the applicants. Often, evacuees left these documents when they made the dangerous journey to escape Afghanistan, fearing the documents would cause them to be identified at a Taliban checkpoint. Further, many of the contractors that employed these evacuees on behalf of the United States government no longer exist and cannot perform key functions in supporting evacuees’ applications. Tens of thousands of Afghan evacuees, including the families of SIV holders that worked with the United States government, are not eligible for SIV status.
The asylum process is equally backlogged, and Afghan evacuees face the difficulty of providing specific evidence of individual persecution — such as proof of Taliban knowledge of their work for the United States. They typically are unable to obtain such evidence. Most evacuees lack access to legal counsel, making navigating the arduous asylum procedure even more difficult.
Learn more about ways you can support refugees and asylum seekers as an individual or as part of a congregational group with UUSC:
The Afghan Adjustment Act would allow certain Afghans who reside in the United States and have passed the requisite security checks a clear pathway to permanent status, circumventing the need for Afghan evacuees to go through the current inadequate processes to get permanent residency. In the past, the United States has implemented similar adjustments for those fleeing repression in Vietnam, Cuba, the USSR, and Iraq.