WASHINGTON -- Afghan refugees living in the United States are allowed to remain for at least 18 month under temporary protected status. This is a step that will help some thousand who arrived after the chaotic American withdrawal.
To be eligible for this program, Afghans must have been in the U.S. already and must pass a background screening. This is to help thousands of Afghans who were forced to flee their country to escape the Taliban.
Many are running out of time because they have yet to receive permanent residency through backlogged programs, such as the special immigration visa. This visa is for people who served as interpreters, or in any other capacity, for the U.S. during the 20-year conflict.
Their country is now in deep economic crisis and millions are at risk of starvation.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, stated that the TPS designation would help protect Afghan nationals living in the United States and prevent them from returning to unsafe conditions.
After the August withdrawal of the U.S., more than 76,000 Afghans were allowed to enter the U.S. Homeland Security estimates that 40% of Afghans will be eligible for a special immigrant Visa. This is a complex and lengthy process that eventually grants permanent legal residency and allows them to apply for citizenship.
Many have settled in the United States, with most moving to Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., Northern California, and Texas.
The Biden administration should designate Afghanistan as a temporary protected status in order to stop Afghans becoming stranded without legal residence status after their two-year humanitarian parole runs out.
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah is president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. "We are pleased to be able to affirm that Afghans who have been living in the United States for a long time cannot return to their homeland safely," she said. "We have received heartbreaking testimony about the degrading and dangerous conditions in Afghanistan as we help thousands of Afghan families resettle after the evacuation. Many of their loved ones are still in country and desperately need our assistance to get safety.
Advocates for refugee rights have also urged Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act. This would allow Afghans to obtain permanent residency and U.S citizenship.
The AfghanEvac coalition is composed of about 100 organizations. It has been calling for the U.S. to help more Afghans flee their country. They welcomed the temporary protected status decision and called it "an appreciated bandaid." However, they said Congress must act on the legislation.
It posted a pointed tweet on Twitter saying, "You were with our August," Stay with us now.
People from around a dozen countries have been granted temporary protected status by the U.S., including Ukraine. Tens of thousands have been left in an immigration limbo by repeated extensions of the status for 18 months.