“The Afghan Adjustment Act would allow eligible Afghans to apply for lawful permanent residence after one year or two years of U.S. physical presence, respectively, and after clearing additional background checks,” said Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), one of the major refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S.
Lawmakers said Afghans who arrived through humanitarian parole “can only gain permanent legal status through the asylum system or Special Immigrant Visa process (SIV), which both face severe backlogs and long processing times.” House lawmakers said the bill would also “establish an Interagency Task Force, led by the U.S. Department of State, responsible for creating and implementing a strategy to continue the relocation and resettlement of eligible Afghan partners from Afghanistan over the next ten years.”
During a Washington, D.C., rally in support of the proposed legislation this past February, “Lucky,” a former Afghan translator who received a special visa after surviving numerous blasts while aiding U.S. military, urged lawmakers to extend that same kind of permanent relief to other vulnerable people.
“I served with U.S. forces in Afghanistan and arrived in the United States on a Special Immigrant Visa in 2017. They call me Lucky because I’ve gotten blown up twice and I still have all my fingers and toes,” he said. “I’m here today to ask Congress for their help. We need to pass an Afghan Adjustment Act so that my new friends and neighbors can have the American dream I am enjoying today.” HIAS, another major refugee resettlement agency, said last year that there is precedent for passage of an Afghan Adjustment Act following Congress’ passage of similar legislation following “several U.S.-involved conflicts or humanitarian crises in the past.”
But while the Biden administration sought to pass the act as part of a Ukraine package in May, it was ultimately left out because of Republicans. Three Republicans in the Senate—Lindsey Graham, Roy Blunt, and Lisa Murkowski—are now cosponsoring the Afghan Adjustment Act. In the House, Peter Meijer, Adam Kinzinger, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Fred Upton are Republican cosponsors.
While the bill could in theory pass the House with only Democratic support (as has been happening with other legislation benefitting the American people), it could be impeded by the racist Jim Crow filibuster in the Senate. And even though three Republicans are cosponsors of the bill, all three also voted for an amendment from Tom Cotton last year that targeted these same Afghan refugees. It’ll now be up to Graham, Blunt, and Murkowski to convince at least seven of their GOP colleagues to support this bill after that shameful vote last year.
“These Afghan allies worked as journalists, translators, non-profit workers, guards, and interpreters —as well as other dangerous professions that put their and their families’ lives on the line,” Blumenthal said. “This effort is urgent as their situation is increasingly desperate. These at-risk Afghans deserve a clear path to citizenship.” Spojmie Nasiri, an immigration attorney, said “Afghans have sacrificed their lives with a mere dream that the U.S. will deliver on their promise of peace and prosperity.” An Afghan Adjustment Act “can be one of the best ways to pay back and put an end to their legal limbo.”
“In the last year, thousands of my fellow Afghans, young and old, left their homes with merely the clothes they were wearing,” Nasiri continued. “It is the United States’ moral obligation to keep up with their promise of helping Afghans, who have stood shoulder to shoulder with our government, and their mission in Afghanistan through thick and thin."
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