Initial reports from Washington, D.C. indicate that the Congressional continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government failed to include language that would aid Afghan evacuees and refugees in their quest to become permanent U.S. residents. The ten-week spending bill did not include the Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA) that many veterans, immigrant activists, Afghan Evac community volunteers, and others had hoped would provide a pathway for permanent legal status for recently resettled Afghans.
Thousands of Afghans were flown by the United States from the Kabul airport to transit locations in the Middle East and Europe during the non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) in August 2021 as the Afghan government fell to the Taliban. After security vetting and medical screening these Afghans were then flown to the United States where they were housed on U.S. military bases for several more weeks or months where they were further processed, screened, and interviewed.
Most of them received humanitarian parole . . . allowing them to stay for a short time in the United States. They have a limited time to apply for asylum with the hope that they can then apply for lawful permanent resident status (green card holder). However, the asylum process is a bureaucratic and lengthy process . . . with a backlog of thousands of asylum cases that need processing and too few immigration lawyers.
The Afghan Adjustment Act would also expand Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) eligibility for some Afghans who worked and served along side U.S. military forces during the 20-year long U.S. involvement in the Afghan conflict. This includes members of the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC), the Afghan Air Force (AAA), the Special Mission Wing (SMW), and the Female Tactical Teams of Afghan SOF units.
The continuing resolution will fund the U.S. government into December 2022. There is hope that the Afghan Adjustment Act can be included in either the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) or the FY23 omnibus budget bill due to be considered by Congress in December. The AAA is bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate that would allow Afghans on temporary humanitarian status in the U.S. who submit to additional security vetting to apply for permanent legal status.
The numerous Afghan Evac organizations and veterans service organizations that have been pressing individual members of Congress to support the AAA are naturally very disappointed. However, the volunteers and veterans have indicated that they will not give up the fight for passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act.
Bill Summary: The Afghan Adjustment Act, Immigration Forum, August 11, 2022
The Afghan Adjustment Act: What it is and Why it is Essential, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS).