More than 77,000 Afghan citizens hurriedly relocated to the United States last August, as a response to the Taliban taking over Afghanistan.
And now, 12 months later, questions have begun to surface about the displaced Afghans — some of whom helped American military troops during the 20-year Iraq War — becoming candidates for U.S. deportation.
In 2021, the majority of Afghan evacuees/undocumented immigrants reportedly received "temporary" legal status in America, good for two years in our nation.
However, the clock's ticking, says Megan Flores, executive director at the Immigrant and Refugee Outreach Center.
"Right now, a lot of [evacuees] are in panic mode. They know they're coming up on the year-mark," says Flores. "They don't have anyone to help them, and we don't have a lot of resources to point them to."
Back in May, President Joe Biden encouraged Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for Afghan evacuees; and shortly after that, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation, known as the "Afghan Adjustment Act."
Khalis Noori, who has been helping Afghans resettle in the United States, including 1,400 in Virginia, says a passage of the "Afghan Adjustment Act" would be the fulfillment of a promise U.S. officials made last summer.
"If [the lawmakers] do this, then history will not forget that," said Noori, who's also an Afghan evacuee. "The Afghan people will not forget that."
Last week, the Biden administration took exception with a House Republican report criticizing the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Consequently, the White House released a memo on behalf of President Biden, arguing his moves to leave Afghanistan ultimately strengthened national security and bolstered America's penchant for defusing terrorism threats abroad.
The memo blamed former President Donald Trump's previous agreement with the Taliban, saying that deal "weakened our partners in the Afghan government."
Also, Biden officials dismissed the GOP report findings — led by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee — as "partisan" and "riddled" with inaccuracies.
"When President Biden took office, he was faced with a choice: ramp up the war and put even more American troops at risk, or finally end the United States' longest war after two decades of American presidents sending U.S. troops to fight and die in Afghanistan and $2 trillion spent," White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson wrote in the memo, according to Axios.
The memo continued: "The President refused to send another generation of Americans to fight a war that should have ended long ago — and we fundamentally disagree with those who advocated for miring the United States' fighting men and women in an indefinite war with no exit strategy."
To obtain lawful permanent residency, Afghans who were allies to the U.S. government can apply for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV).
But here's the systemic problem, according to Business Insider: Approximately 74,000 SIV applications have yet to processed.
Also, the United States Citizenship and Immigration services are working through an existing backlog of more than 400,000 asylum cases.
"Our asylum system is pretty broken. So they enter this long line of asylum applications that just adds to a stress level that people don't need after what they've been through," said Alicia Wrenn, senior director of resettlement and integration at Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a nonprofit that has served about 4,200 Afghan evacuees.
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