New York, NY, August 9, 2022 — We celebrate the announcement that both the Senate and the House have introduced the Afghan Adjustment Act to provide a pathway to lawful permanent residence and eventual citizenship for Afghan nationals who have already been allowed to enter the U.S. and restart their lives here.
Last August, through Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), the U.S. welcomed and processed more than 76,000 evacuees in a historic relocation effort, the largest of its kind since the Vietnam war. Entering the U.S. under humanitarian parole allowed Afghans to enter the U.S. quickly and stay for a period of up to two years, but it does not provide a legal pathway to permanent residence or eventual citizenship. As a result, Afghan evacuees have found themselves under a cloud of legal uncertainty, where they have not been afforded the same rights and benefits had they been resettled to the U.S. as refugees.
The IRC calls for members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to rally support for this bipartisan legislation in order to ensure the long-term integration of Afghans who have already been welcomed in the U.S. and the prosperity of the U.S. communities in which they reside. Under the Afghan Adjustment Act, applicants will go through rigorous vetting processes akin to those required as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Notably, this population has already gone through extensive security vetting as part of the official processing during OAW.
The work of U.S. resettlement agencies like the IRC has been critical to meeting the integration needs of Afghans in local U.S. communities, where we have served over 11,000 Afghan evacuees on top of the thousands of refugees, we have already resettled this year. This massive humanitarian effort would have been impossible to accomplish without the help of hundreds of IRC staff, thousands of volunteers, federal assistance, donations from the private sector, and partnerships with leading law firms providing pro-bono representation and support to Afghan evacuees applying for asylum and family reunification.
JC Hendrickson, Senior Director of Resettlement, Asylum and Integration Policy and Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee, said:
“The IRC applauds the historic bipartisan support for legislation that will provide a legal pathway for our new Afghan neighbors to rebuild their lives and plan for the future. Providing safety in the U.S. for persecuted people is a clear demonstration of American values in action.
“The fact that this bill was introduced with broad bipartisan support shows recognition that refugees have enriched every aspect of American life by bringing their experiences and talents to their new communities while contributing meaningfully as earners and taxpayers. They fill critical gaps in the labor market and have high rates of entrepreneurship, creating jobs and boosting local economies. It is imperative that all refugees seeking protection are afforded durable, permanent solutions to their displacement on an equitable basis, irrespective of their country of origin.”