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What’s Next for Afghans in the U.S.?

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What’s Next for Afghans in the U.S.?

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It has been just over a year since the United States withdrew from Afghanistan and the country subsequently fell into Taliban control. Over 76,000 Afghan citizens were able to escape the country into the United States, but their futures in this country are all but clear.

In the chaos of the evacuation, the Afghans that were most likely to make it onto planes had connections to the U.S. military and in danger of facing Taliban retribution. Those that were able to make it to the U.S. were paroled into the country on a temporary, two-year status known as humanitarian parole. This status is not a route towards U.S. permanent residence. In May of 2022, Afghanistan was designated for temporary protected status, enabling anyone who had been in the U.S. since March 15, 2022 to apply for protection from removal. However, this temporary designation also does not serve as a route towards permanent residence.

For the majority of Afghans seeking to find permanent refuge in the U.S., the only option is to apply for asylum. However, without legal representation, asylum can be a complicated maze of legal requirements and bars, the least of which requires individuals to apply within one year of entering the United States. And even though these cases would seem to be on-their-face eligible for asylum protection, the data shows that USCIS improperly refers asylum cases to court too often.[1]

Thankfully, some bipartisan lawmakers have identified this issue and are now working to pass a bill to allow Afghans to adjust to permanent residence without undergoing the asylum process.[2] This would not be the first time something like this has occurred, congress passed similar legislation following the Cuban revolution and the Vietnam war.[3] The act would include additional vetting for the applicants in the U.S. and would also establish a task force to identify and assist similar Afghans who assisted the U.S. but were unable to board the initial flights out of Afghanistan.

While we wait to see whether the bill passes the house and the senate, contact your congress person to let them know that this is an issue you care about.[4]

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