Rights groups welcome US move to reinstate Afghan Adjustment Act

A group of Afghans waiting for their flight at Kabul airport in August 2021 during the evacuation process. Photo: Shakibi Ibrahimi

Refugees International and World Relief have welcomed the reintroduction of the Afghan Adjustment Act in US Congress, bipartisan legislation that would allow people from Afghanistan who have been evacuated to the US after the collapse of the former government to apply for permanent legal residency.

Refugees International said in a statement on Saturday that the legislation would provide a faster and more secure way to give Afghans certainty about their futures and the ability to finally focus fully on rebuilding their lives.

“Congress, as it has in the past, must support those who aided the U.S. mission abroad—and who are now contributing to communities here in the United States—by passing this legislation. There is no substitute,” the statement said.

“For so many Afghans, and particularly for women whose lives were changed by the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, this support is now more important than ever. They have lost so much in the last two years, and yet have so much they want to do and to give if given the chance,” said Refugees International Director for the Americas and Europe Yael Schacher.

Meanwhile, World Relief has also praised the move, stating that this important bill acknowledges the plight of Afghan nationals who faced an urgent threat of persecution under the Taliban, “including many who have worked tirelessly alongside the United States military, diplomatic missions, and non-governmental organizations, risking their lives to support the cause of peace and stability.”

“In the nearly two years that have passed since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, World Relief has partnered with churches and communities to serve more than 6,000 Afghans who fled persecution,” said Myal Greene, president and CEO of World Relief.

“Americans of all backgrounds have eagerly welcomed Afghan neighbors. The Afghan Adjustment Act is an opportunity for Congress to convey the American public’s commitment to Afghan parolees by allowing them to apply for permanent legal status, relieving them of the fear and stress associated with living in legal limbo,” Greene added.

According to the organization, over 70,000 Afghans were evacuated to the U.S. in the weeks following the fall of Kabul nearly two years ago.

“The need to support their full integration continues, as many Afghans remain in legal limbo, with their parole and work authorization bearing expiration dates. The Afghan Adjustment Act would allow Afghans with parole to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status without needing to rely upon woefully backlogged legal processes for asylum or Special Immigrant Visas,” the statement said.

“We are grateful for the strong bipartisan leadership in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, demonstrating that Congress works together on common sense policy solutions,” said Matthew Soerens, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy for World Relief.

“We urge Congress to act immediately to pass it into law, heeding the voices of Afghan allies and of the many people who have helped to welcome new Afghan neighbors, including thousands of local churches that have stepped up to build communities of love and welcome to receive them,” Soerens added.