It has been one year since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the harrowing scenes that captivated the world as aircraft rushed to depart its capital city of Kabul. Tens of thousands of Afghan nationals have now been resettled in communities across the United States, many of whom served alongside U.S. servicemembers. They are now in need of a legal pathway to real and lasting safety. They need the Afghan Adjustment Act.
Most Afghans arrived with humanitarian parole, which only allows someone to remain in the United States for a temporary duration. Currently, the only pathway available to most of those relocated to the United States is asylum, a complex and paperwork-intensive process with years-long processing backlogs. In order to make a successful asylum claim, these Afghans will be asked to provide proof of their likely persecution if returned to Afghanistan—because of their work with Americans or international aid groups, because of their efforts to report the truth about conditions on the ground, because of their support for democratic values and human rights, or because of other acts not tolerated by the Taliban. Documents that demonstrate this are the same ones that Afghans were advised to destroy in order to escape or elude the Taliban in the days that preceded the fall of Kabul.
The bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act (S. 4787/H.R. 8685), patterned after similar laws, including legislation enacted after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, provides an important correction by allowing recently resettled Afghans to apply to become lawful permanent residents, the same status they would have received had they been admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
The national resettlement agencies of the United States, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), together with its Catholic Charities partners and other community-based organizations, have been hard at work during the past year, helping Afghans settle into their new homes. The task of helping Afghans to file asylum applications would fall to these same organizations and legal services providers, which are already stretched thin. For these reasons, the Afghan Adjustment Act would benefit not only the Afghans themselves but also the organizations serving them and federal agencies such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which lacks the resources to accurately process tens of thousands of asylum applications in a timely manner.
As Bishop Mario Dorsonville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, said in a recent letter to Congress, “it is both our moral duty and in our country’s best interest to provide our new Afghan neighbors with a pathway to permanent legal status.”
- Read the recent press release from the USCCB discussing the Afghan Adjustment Act.
- View the text of the Afghan Adjustment Act, as introduced in the Senate.
- View a section-by-section breakdown of the bill.
- The National Immigration Forum has also created a summary of the bill.
- For more information about our new Afghan neighbors and the need for passing the Afghan Adjustment Act, view the Justice for Immigrants backgrounder.
- Pray for integration of all newcomers.