After a bipartisan effort, and just short of the one year anniversary of the fall of Kabul, the Afghan Adjustment Act was introduced on August 9 in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Passage would allow Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S. to apply to become lawful permanent residents. Most Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S. were admitted as “humanitarian parolees,” a temporary status that does not include a clear path to lawful permanent residence. Currently, most Afghans who were admitted are required to apply for asylum, a process encumbered by severe backlogs, long processing times, and with uncertain outcomes.
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Act in the Senate, and U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Peter Meijer (R-MI), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Fred Upton (R-MI), and Scott Peters (D-CA) introduced the bill in the House.
Catherine Lindgren, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project’s Afghanistan Project Attorney, and a member of the Afghan Response Task Force – a team of pro bono lawyers recently recognized with the 2022 Michael Maggio Memorial Pro Bono Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association – issued the following statement:
“The Afghan Adjustment Act is urgently needed legislation that honors America’s promise to Afghan parolees who have sacrificed and lost so much in the wake of the fall of Afghanistan. Those evacuated to the U.S. include allies who fought alongside and protected U.S. troops, Afghans who worked as contractors to serve the U.S. mission, and others who faced persecution due to their ties to the United States. Tens of thousands of Afghans are stuck in legal limbo, feeling unwelcome in the U.S., and unable to restart their lives here. Swift passage of this bill will show our Afghan allies they were right to believe in America’s ideals and promises, and it will help our veterans whose fight to achieve a durable solution for their Afghan friends and allies did not end with the U.S. withdrawal. We call on Maine’s full Congressional delegation to support the Afghan Adjustment Act as we work to meet our moral obligation and honor our country’s commitments to our Afghan allies and our veterans.”
Resettlement of Afghans in the U.S. is administered by the U.S. State Department through the Afghan Placement and Assistance Program. Catholic Charities, the oldest resettlement agency in Maine, has resettled the majority of Afghan refugees in Maine. Most who were resettled by Catholic Charities now live in the Greater Portland area, with a smaller number in Augusta. Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services (MEIRS), a community resettlement partner, has resettled over 100 Afghans in the Lewiston area. The Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine (JCA), a Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) affiliate partner, has also resettled a small number of Afghans.