Re-Introduction of Afghan Adjustment Act Provides Chance to Fulfill Promise to Afghan Allies

By USCRI July 14, 2023

The Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA) has been re-introduced in both chambers of the 118th Congress. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) believes this piece of legislation would meet urgent needs across the country for those who were evacuated from Afghanistan beginning nearly two years ago.

“We are grateful the Afghan Adjustment Act has been re-introduced in the 118th Congress,” USCRI President and CEO Eskinder Negash said. “The AAA’s streamlined adjustment of status process and comprehensive approach to longstanding issues in Afghan resettlement remain essential as ever.”

“We welcome the administration’s steps since the evacuation to extend temporary relief to Afghans, such as Temporary Protected Status last spring and the new re-parole process this June,” Negash said. “But there is no substitute for the path to permanency contained in the AAA.”

“Afghans deserve welcome, permanency, and solidarity from the United States — and the AAA will begin to do just that,” he added. “USCRI urges Congress to swiftly pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.”

In 2021, the United States government, resettlement agencies including USCRI, and community partners across the country welcomed thousands of Afghans who were evacuated as the Afghan government fell to the Taliban during the U.S. and coalition military withdrawal.

More than 70,000 Afghans received humanitarian parole to gain entry and admission into the United States. But parole is temporary and is not connected to lawful permanent residency, or green card status.

Many Afghans are eligible for a permanent status in the United States through the asylum system or the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for those who worked directly with the U.S. military mission. But most Afghans have not obtained permanent status as those pathways are plagued with backlog, documentation, and other challenges.

Moreover, thousands of Afghan allies remain left behind in Afghanistan and millions of Afghan refugees live in neighboring countries such as Pakistan— often still at risk and in limbo with no clear path to safety in the United States.

The Afghan Adjustment Act would provide resettled Afghan humanitarian parolees with a path to lawful permanent residency through a streamlined, vetted adjustment of status process. It would also make needed changes to SIV eligibility, improve consular processing of applications and visas for Afghans overseas, and create an interagency task force on Afghan ally resettlement strategy.

“The AAA is not simply an immigration bill,” Negash said. “The AAA is essential to fulfilling the United States’ commitments to its national security partners and allies from America’s longest war, which will affect U.S. foreign policy and security in all future conflicts and engagements.”

“It is also essential to furthering the economic and community integration of Afghans in their new homes now almost two years after the Taliban takeover upended their lives,” he added.

The AAA was first introduced in the 117th Congress last August by a bipartisan, bicameral group of Representatives and Senators. It was championed by a diverse coalition of Afghan Americans, veterans’ groups, faith-based organizations, resettlement agencies, refugee and immigrant rights advocates, service providers, businesses, and many others.

Through this support last year, the bill gained more than 130 additional co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and more bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. Despite this push, the previous Congress failed to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act last December.

In lieu of AAA’s passage, Afghans have continued to pursue various forms of immigration relief such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), asylum, and SIVs— contributing to a needlessly complicated and stressful environment of overlapping efforts to clarify and secure the status of thousands of Afghans.

A new re-parole process— first announced in May and launched in June— will offer an additional two years of parole and work authorization for eligible Afghan parolees if approved. However, re-parole— like the underlying grant of parole itself— is a temporary form of relief for Afghans who clearly cannot return to Afghanistan.

“With the AAA now re-introduced, Congress can still do the right thing: pass the AAA, put Afghans on the path to permanency, and respond to other challenges obstructing the continued relocation of our Afghan partners,” Negash said.

USCRI and its network will continue to serve resettled Afghans, as it has since the early days of the evacuation. USCRI will also continue to advocate for both temporary and permanent protections for Afghans, such as a redesignation and extension of Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status, more consistent and compassionate parole and asylum policies at the southern border, and an efficient and robustly supported U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to process Afghan refugee cases in third countries.

USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

For press inquiries, please contact: [email protected].

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