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Washington, D.C. – The Biden administration will reportedly allow tens of thousands of Afghans evacuated to the U.S. to apply to stay and work in the country legally for at least another two years, as efforts in Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act have yet to provide them long-term stability, according to CBS News.
The news comes just months before the earliest evacuees were set to lose parole protections, a major source of stress and anxiety. Amid concerns, advocates have stepped-up efforts to press the administration for a streamlined, accessible, and efficient process that would be announced early enough to provide evacuees with a meaningful opportunity to continue accessing vital benefits.
“Eligible Afghans will be allowed to submit an online application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request a renewal of their parole classification,” per the report. The agency will also set up five support centers across the U.S. to connect Afghans with legal assistance in order to apply for parole renewals, as well as separate pathways to permanent legal status, such as asylum.
As a resettlement nonprofit that has worked closely to support newly arrived Afghan families over the past two years, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is grateful for this indication that the Biden administration is poised to provide access to ongoing protection in the wake of Congress’s failure to extend lasting stability.
“I pray this news provides some relief to the thousands of Afghan evacuees that need more time to find their footing in the United States,” said Jill Marie Bussey, Director for Public Policy at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “LIRS and the Evacuate Our Allies coalition have been persistently advocating for a streamlined, accessible, and efficient re-parole process, and we will continue to hold the administration accountable for ensuring temporary protection that meet those goals. We remain committed to keeping our nation’s promises to Afghan evacuees and those left behind to provide both initial support and lasting protection.”
While approximately 77,000 Afghans were admitted to the U.S. on parole following the evacuation, as of February 12, fewer than 5,000 applications for asylum or special immigrant visas had been approved. In Congress, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have championed the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would allow Afghan parolees the opportunity to apply for legal permanent residence; however, the push to pass the legislation has stalled.
“For us, the Afghan Adjustment Act is more than a bill before Congress. It cuts to the core question of whether the U.S. keeps its promise of protection to its allies,” said Helal Massomi, Afghan Policy Advisor at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and an evacuee from Afghanistan herself. “Congress needs to keep our nation’s promise and make it clear to Afghans that this country is more than their temporary safe haven – it’s their home.”