Humanitarian groups welcome US Afghan Adjustment Act
Rights groups are welcoming the Afghan Adjustment Act, which will allow Afghans who were paroled into the US to have a path to permanent residency and citizenship.
The bill, which was passed last week with bipartisan support, with advocacy by refugee, civil rights and veterans' groups, mainly applies to the 70,000 to 80,000 Afghans who were evacuated a year ago when the US and its allies withdrew from Afghanistan.
"This group of parolees didn't have a pathway to stay in the country. The adjustment of the act gives them a permanent status," Adam Bates, supervisory policy counsel with the International Refugee Assistance Project, told The New Arab. "They're on the same footing as if they'd come in as refugees. They plainly can't be sent back to Afghanistan."
With the Afghans' statuses adjusted, this will free up resources to process asylum applications of other refugees, as they will no longer need to apply for asylum.
"If Congress does nothing, without the Adjustment Act, the majority of folks would end up requesting asylum, and the asylum system is already backlogged," said Bates. "It's superfluous to find out if these folks have a credible fear of going back to Afghanistan. It would benefit nobody."
Apart from helping Afghans in the US, the bill also helps with consular services for those in Afghanistan still waiting for their applications to be processed. Lacking in the bill, according to refugee advocates, is an expansion of the P2 programme, which would further increase the number of those who qualify for refugee status.
This is not the first time there has been an adjustment in the status of those paroled into the US. It has previously been done for Cubans, Vietnamese and Liberians.