Catholic Charities Family and Community Services (CCFCS) urges Congress to move forward without delay on the Afghan Adjustment Act, which will provide much needed stability and certainty for our Afghan families who are building their lives across the U.S. and in Rochester.
During the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, the Biden administration granted humanitarian parole to more than 80,000 Afghan evacuees to allow them entry into the U.S. This designation expires after two years. Almost half of these evacuees don’t quality for special immigrant visas set aside for Afghans who fought alongside American troops or who worked directly for U.S government agencies. They are journalists, teachers, women’s right activists and others who most certainly face persecution should they be deported.
Without an adjustment in their immigration status, these Afghans will have to request asylum to stay in the U.S. However, backlogs in the system mean it could take years for their cases to be heard, which would limit their ability to find work and establish a foundation in our community.
After the conflicts in Cuba, Vietnam and Iraq, Congress provided lawful permanent resident status, also known as green cards, to refugees from those countries. CCFCS believes the same status should be granted to our Afghan allies. The Afghan Adjustment Act would do just that.
Despite bipartisan support, opponents of the act blocked its passage in November 2022. Supporters of the legislation plan to reintroduce it. But lawmakers need to move quickly. Even if the bill passes, it will be months before Afghan evacuees can begin applying for green cards. With their legal status expiring this coming August, a vote needs to take place by this spring.
CCFCS and community-based partners in Rochester have helped resettle more than 856 Afghan refugees since the war on terror began in 2001, including more than 448 since the U.S. withdrawal from Kabul in 2021. These individuals and their families are contributing to the local economy and culture as taxpayers, workers, business owners, advocates, students, and artists. CCFCS stands in solidarity with them on their path to permanent residency in the U.S.
To learn more about CCFCS work on behalf of refugees and immigrants: