As Bishop Mark Seitz, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, said in a recent letter to Congress, the Afghan Adjustment Act’s “passage is a moral imperative for a country such as ours that embraces both freedom and the rule of law.”
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 and other physical evidence 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 their evacuation by the U.S. government.
Nearly two years since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, over 85% of those evacuated remain dependent on humanitarian parole or other temporary protections, and the vast majority are unlikely to attain asylum or special immigrant status. As Bishop Seitz stated in his letter, “This is untenable—for the families themselves, their employers, federal agencies, and the communities they now call home.”
The Afghan Adjustment Act, patterned after similar laws, including legislation enacted after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, would address this defect, fulfilling our nation’s promise to these families, demonstrating the United States’ commitment to its allies, and reaffirming the importance of humanitarian protection. It would allow 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.
Help answer Pope Francis’ call for us to “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate” these newcomers by completing this action alert in support of the Afghan Adjustment Act.