‘This needs to happen yesterday’: Advocates push for swift passage of bill to protect Afghan refugees.

BY|Sahan Journal

Bipartisan legislation before Congress would help America’s wartime allies who fled Afghanistan gain permanent residency in the United States.

Advocates for Afghan refugees are pushing for swift passage of a bipartisan bill in Congress that would grant Afghan refugees a path to permanent residency in the United States.

One year after the U.S. military conducted an emergency evacuation out of Afghanistan, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and five other senators introduced the Afghan Adjustment Act. The bill would allow Afghans to apply for a green card.

Green-card status would grant Afghan refugees protection against deportation, and give them the ability to sponsor family members left behind in Afghanistan, and the opportunity to make long-term plans in the United States. The legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate, and has the support of Democrats and Republicans.

“Our Afghan allies put everything at risk to support our troops,” Klobuchar said in an email. “It’s what we did in the wake of the Vietnam War to help refugees, including many Hmong refugees who now call Minnesota home, and it’s critical that we take similar steps to help Afghans who fled their country find stability and community in the U.S.”

Our Afghan allies put everything at risk to support our troops”


As Klobuchar noted, the bill is similar to others Congress has passed in response to other global conflicts. The Indochina Migration and Refugee Act of 1975 granted Southeast Asians, including a large population of Minnesota’s Hmong refugees, a path toward legal permanent residency.

Here’s what the Afghan Adjustment Act would do:

-Allow Afghans who are in the United Statues under humanitarian parole status the chance to apply for permanent legal status, also known as a green card.

-Expand the Special Immigrant Visa program, which the government granted to many Afghan refugees who aided the U.S. military in Afghanistan, to include more people.

-Establish a task force to support Afghans outside of the U.S. who are eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa. 

The bill would most impact Afghans with humanitarian parole status. That designation allows Afghans to live and work in the United States for two years, a status set to expire in August 2023. As it stands, Afghans with humanitarian parole can gain permanent status by applying for asylum, but the system is experiencing a five-year backlog. If passed, the Afghan Adjustment Act will clear a less cumbersome path toward obtaining a green card, which generally takes one to two years.

Bipartisan support

Immigration policy can be complicated, but attorney Lindsey Greising, of the Minneapolis-based Advocates for Human Rights, said the fact that the United States adopted similar legislation in the past means the bill should be given similar support.

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