This month marks the two-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan and the subsequent takeover of the country by the Taliban. In the weeks leading up to the withdrawal, as Taliban forces rapidly moved toward the capital of Kabul, tens of thousands of Afghans sought to flee the country. To help facilitate the evacuation of Afghans who had worked with or supported the mission of U.S. forces, the Biden Administration established a humanitarian parole program.
More than 75,000 Afghans were relocated to the U.S. through humanitarian parole. While this process provides temporary status for a renewable period of two years, it is not a permanent solution. Unless Congress provides a special path to apply for legal permanent residence, as it has in similar situations in the past, most of these individuals and families would have to seek protection through the already backlogged asylum system.
In August 2022, the ABA adopted a policy urging the U.S. government to facilitate continued relocations of Afghan individuals at risk and to provide a streamlined process to adjust to legal permanent residence status for Afghan nationals paroled into the U.S.
The Afghan Adjustment Act (S. 2327/H.R. 4627), reintroduced on 7/13/23, is bipartisan legislation that would establish an expedited path for displaced Afghans to apply for permanent status in the U.S. and expand pathways to protection for Afghans who remain left behind and at risk. The bill would allow Afghans in the U.S. on humanitarian status who submit to additional vetting to apply for permanent legal status; expand the Special Immigrant Visa program to include previously omitted groups, including the Female Tactical Teams of Afghanistan; and establish a task force to develop a strategy to continue the relocation and resettlement of eligible Afghan partners who remain at risk. The bill is supported by a numerous groups of diverse individuals and organizations representing veterans, businesses, faith groups and many others.
In July 2023, the ABA urged Senate leadership to include the Afghan Adjustment Act in the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act. Although the AAA amendment did not receive a vote in the Senate, advocates continue to press for it to be included in the final bill through conference negotiations or for the AAA to be attached to other legislation moving through Congress this fall.
ABA members are encouraged to support this effort by urging their members of Congress to cosponsor and support the Afghan Adjustment Act through the Governmental Affairs Office grassroots advocacy campaign that may be accessed online.