HIAS Commends Congress for Introducing Afghan Adjustment Act
Aug 9, 2022
SILVER SPRING, Md. – HIAS applauds today’s introduction in the House of Representatives and Sunday’s introduction in the Senate – both with strong bipartisan support – of an Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA), legislation that would allow refugees evacuated from Afghanistan a year ago to apply for permanent status after being admitted to the U.S. under humanitarian parole.
“With the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul nearly upon us, we commend House and Senate leaders for working together to find a sensible solution for Afghans associated with the United States mission who fled the Taliban in the wake of the Afghan government’s collapse,” said Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ senior vice president of Global Public Affairs. “Without the AAA, those evacuated last summer have no assurance that they can remain in the U.S. after their parole status expires. This legislation would change that by establishing pathways to help Afghans find stability and begin to build new lives in the U.S.”
Humanitarian parole, unlike refugee resettlement, does not automatically lead to legal permanent resident status. The more than 75,000 Afghans who entered the U.S. in 2021 were only given one or two years of legal protection in the U.S. “The Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S. last summer include human rights advocates, educators, interpreters, and personnel and their families who worked alongside U.S. forces and U.S.-based humanitarian organizations,” Nezer said. “It seems safe to say that none can safely return home and probably won’t be able to for a long time. Without an Afghan Adjustment Act, Afghans who worked for the U.S. military in Afghanistan may apply for permanent residency through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, but this process takes years. Without the AAA, most Afghans will have to apply for permanent status through the extraordinarily complex – and backlogged – U.S. asylum system.”
Although thousands of the evacuees were affiliated with the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and already passed stringent security checks, the AAA includes provisions that require additional substantive vetting with an in-person interview – the same security vetting that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program requires. These are the most in-depth security checks required of any category of non-citizens coming to the U.S.
“There is precedent for the AAA,” Nezer said. “Congress has provided paths to permanent residency for Cubans fleeing the Castro regime, for Vietnamese and other refugees after the wars in Southeast Asia, and for Iraqis after Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. We call on the House and the Senate to move swiftly to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.”
HIAS thanks Senators Coons (D-DE), Klobuchar (D-MN), Blumenthal (D-CT), Graham (R-SC), Blunt (R-MO), and Murkowski (R-AK), and Representatives Blumenauer (D-OR), Meijer (R-MI), Nadler (D-NY), Kinzinger (R-IL), Lofgren (D-CA), Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Crow (D-CO), Upton (R-MI) and Peters (D-CA) for their leadership in introducing this legislation.