FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2023
Contact: Tim Young | email@example.com
Washington D.C. – Two years ago today, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan culminated in its capturing of Kabul, prompting the United States military to conduct one of the largest airlifts in history. The two-week evacuation effort would ultimately bring approximately 77,000 at-risk Afghans to safety on U.S. soil; however, there are thought to be hundreds of thousands of U.S.-affiliated Afghans left behind in harm’s way as they await processing of their applications.
Despite an outpouring of public support for Afghans evacuated to the U.S., they continue to face significant challenges in resettling, such as affordable housing, employment, childcare, language barriers, cultural differences, transportation, mental health, and an inability to reunite with family still abroad. Additionally, the vast majority of Afghan evacuees must contend with the precarious and uncertain nature of humanitarian parole – the emergency mechanism by which they were admitted to the country. Two years after their arrival, only 10% of this population has successfully adjusted to a legal status that provides permanent protection, as backlogs and bureaucratic barriers mire the asylum and Special Immigrant Visa processes.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to seek retribution against U.S.-affiliated Afghans through kidnappings, torture, and targeted killings. The regime has presided over a devastating economic collapse and the rapid deterioration of human rights, including its systemic discrimination, exclusion, and subjugation of women and girls.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) remains steadfast in our solidarity with Afghans at home and abroad at this difficult and emotional time. Having worked to resettle more than 14,000 evacuees since the U.S. withdrawal, we have witnessed firsthand their courage and resilience in the face of unimaginable hardship. We will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these allies for as long as it takes our nation to keep its promise of lasting protection, both to those evacuated to the U.S., as well as the many more left behind.
The following is a statement by Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President & CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service:
“Two years after withdrawal, the U.S. has yet to fulfill its promise to Afghan allies, whether they be here in the U.S., waiting in third countries, or in harm’s way in Afghanistan. Backlogs, barriers, and burdens continue to impede access to lasting protection and long-overdue family reunification.”
“Perhaps nowhere are our nation’s shortcomings more evident than in Congress’s failure thus far to pass the bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act. The allies of America’s longest war deserve more than to live separated from their loved ones in an unsustainable legal limbo. Elected officials must pass this bill to ensure that evacuees can remain permanently in the U.S. and that relocation of at-risk Afghans continues on a meaningful scale. This legislation is how we keep our nation’s promise of protection, not only to those who fought and bled for our mission, but to human rights defenders, journalists, NGO workers, and the women and girls that the Taliban seeks to eradicate from public life. We owe these brave allies a debt of gratitude, and the Afghan Adjustment Act is a much needed down payment on it.”
“Like so many volunteers, veterans, congregations, and communities across the U.S., we are profoundly grateful to call Afghans our neighbors, friends, and extended family. Despite enduring unimaginable hardship, their unwavering resolve to rebuild their lives and contribute positively to their new communities exemplifies their strength, resilience, and the deep ties of two decades’ worth of friendship between our peoples. Our moral obligation to do right by our Afghan allies did not end when the last plane took off from Kabul two years ago – Congress must act accordingly.”