Human Rights First Welcomes Support for Afghans in Continuing Resolution
WASHINGTON – Human Rights First welcomed Congress’ inclusion of several provisions that will better support Afghans seeking safety in the United States in today’s passage of a continuing resolution that will fund the government through December 3, 2021.
“This is an important step toward helping at-risk Afghans arriving in the United States with nothing, following the fall of the elected government of Afghanistan. It is heartening to see Congress recognize that Afghans starting to build lives here in the United States should be provided with the welcome and integration services and benefits they need,” said Human Rights First Senior Director of Government Affairs Jennifer Quigley.
The continuing resolution included several provisions to support Afghan refugees and other vulnerable people seeking protection, including:
- Making Afghan “humanitarian parolees” eligible to receive refugee resettlement services and benefits, such as reception and placement support and food assistance
- The funding needed to provide assistance and services to vulnerable Afghans abroad through the State Department’s humanitarian assistance accounts and funding for U.S. agencies assisting Afghans welcomed through Operation Allies Welcome, including $193 million for United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
- Requiring the federal government to expedite consideration of Afghan parolees’ asylum applications
- Making Afghan parolees eligible for REAL ID drivers’ licenses and identification cards
“Unfortunately, today’s continuing resolution falls short of addressing all of the needs of arriving Afghans. USCIS will not be able to quickly process asylum applications. Afghans allies and at-risk Afghans will be subject to the same paperwork-intensive asylum process and years-long backlogs that have prevented thousands of others from finding safety in the United States,” added Quigley. “Congress must pass an Afghan adjustment act to allow Afghans to adjust to lawful permanent residence (LRP) status. Afghan special immigrant visa holders and refugees would have been eligible for LPR status if the process hadn’t needed to be rushed. Congress must offer Afghans a fair, timely, and dignified way to rebuild their lives in safety.”
Human Rights First urges Congress to pass a bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA), which would allow Afghan parolees who are being evacuated from Afghanistan, even those who were advised to destroy their documents, to have an opportunity to seek legal permanent residence. These parolees are fleeing violence and persecution and deserve an opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety – and without the fear and limitations associated with uncertain immigration status.
Additionally, Congress should demand the Biden administration release a plan to evacuate allies who remain in Afghanistan and bring those located in host countries to safety in the United States, create a categorical parole program for Afghan nationals, and waive all application fees associated with humanitarian parole applications.