Human Rights First Welcomes Introduction of Afghan Adjustment Act
WASHINGTON – Today’s bipartisan introduction of the Afghan Adjustment Act in the House of Representatives by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Peter Meijer (R-MI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Fred Upton (R-MI), and Scott Peters (D-CA), and Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Lisa Ann Murkowski (R-AK) signals a renewed focus on welcoming Afghans to the United States after 20 years of war. Human Rights First, which has worked with the Evacuate Our Allies coalition since the withdrawal of the U.S. military to bring at-risk Afghans to the relative safety of the United States, strongly supports the measure.
“A year ago, veterans watched a chaotic evacuation that many of us warned against, and were horrified that the United States would abandon its promise to the Afghan people. For the past year, veterans, resettlement groups, refugee advocates, and faith organizations have worked alongside the government to welcome our Afghan allies to permanent safety in this country,” said Chris Purdy, Director of Veterans for American Ideals and Outreach (VFAI). “Today’s introduction of the Afghan Adjustment Act is the next step in America’s journey to do right by our Afghan allies. The legislation will help thousands of our Afghan allies to find permanent homes here in the United States and have the American welcome they richly deserve.”
On Wednesday, August 9, at 12:30 pm EDT, the Evacuate Our Allies coalition will hold a press conference at the plaza in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, at the corner of East Capitol Street NE and First Street NE in Washington, D.C. The press event, moderated by VFAI’s Chris Purdy, will include remarks from:
- Alex Plitsas, Human First
- Lawrence Montreiul, The American Legion
- Andrew Sullivan, Veteran and Legislative Director for With Honor
- Helal Massomi, Afghan Women’s Rights Advocate and Evacuee
- Shawn VanDiver, Veteran and Founder of AfghanEvac
- Lucky (pseudonym), Afghan Interpreter and Special Immigrant Visa recipient
- Matt Zeller, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
- Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
The Afghan Adjustment Act streamlines the immigration process for many Afghan nationals, especially those who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. All eligible applicants must have been inspected or admitted to the United States prior to the Act’s enactment, have been paroled into the United States between July 30, 2021 and enactment, have had their travel to the United States facilitated by the government, or arrived in the U.S. post-enactment and supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
“Today, tens of thousands of Afghans are trapped in their country under threat of violence and death at the hands of the Taliban. Thousands who have left that country are currently stuck in bureaucratic backlogs or trapped with tenuous immigration status, keeping them from feeling safe and welcome in the United States,” said Jennifer Quigley, Senior Director of Government Affairs at Human Rights First. “The Afghan Adjustment Act helps address these problems, and Human Rights First and our allies will do everything we can to see that it passes this Congress, is signed by the president, and helps our Afghan allies be welcomed in the United States.”
Special Immigration Visa (SIV) status will also be extended to previously omitted at-risk Afghan allies and the relatives of certain members of the Afghan armed forces. Under the Act, all SIV applicants will be exempt from processing fees and those approved will be assisted in entering the United States by the State Department.
Other eligible Afghans will be required to be in the United States for two years prior to adjustment and meet additional vetting requirements. The Department of Homeland Security, with assistance from the Department of Defense, will re-vet non-priority applicants.
The act also supports Afghan nationals outside the United States who meet the requirements for SIV status or U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) referrals. With transparency in mind, the act demands a report documenting the number of pending Afghan SIV applications or USRAP referrals, the steps the State Department has taken for relocation and resettlement, and any limitations on taking those steps.
About Human Rights First
Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. For 40 years the organization has worked to press the U.S. government and private companies to respect human rights and the rule of law. When they fail, Human Rights First steps in to demand reform, accountability and justice. Human Rights First is based in New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.