New York, NY, July 14, 2023 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) welcomes the bipartisan reintroduction of the Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA), which provides a pathway to lawful permanent residence and eventual citizenship for Afghan nationals who entered the U.S. during Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) in 2021.
The Afghan relocation effort was the largest evacuation event since the Vietnam War. Through Operation Allies Welcome, the U.S. received and processed over 78,000 Afghan evacuees, of which the IRC has resettled more than 11,000 by providing immediate aid, integration support, and employment services. These Afghans entered the U.S. with humanitarian parole status allowing them to temporarily stay in the country. However, this temporary status does not offer a clear path to permanent residency in the U.S. or eventual citizenship. Despite meeting the definition of a refugee and being deemed eligible for refugee benefits, these Afghan parolees find themselves under a cloud of legal uncertainty and unable to plan for the future. Without adjustment legislation, Afghan humanitarian parolees remain in a state of limbo, inhibiting their full integration into U.S. communities.
The IRC calls for members of the 118th Congress to support the bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act not only because it fulfills the U.S. mission to support Afghans fleeing persecution, but because it strengthens the country’s economic and geopolitical position. Refugees enrich every aspect of American life by bringing their experiences and talents to their new communities. Last year, the IRC provided new data that projected for Afghan evacuees to contribute nearly $200 million in taxes, and $1.4 billion in earnings in their first year of employment. The U.S. government must honor its promise of safety made to those it chose to welcome via parole and provide them with the opportunity to build a new life in the U.S.
Srdan Sadikovic, Director of U.S. Federal Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), said:
“The IRC celebrates the bipartisan reintroduction of the Afghan Adjustment Act and encourages members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to rally support for this life-saving legislation to ensure the long-term integration of Afghans who have already been welcomed to the U.S.
“Across the country, Afghans are meaningfully contributing to the economy as earners and taxpayers by joining the workforce, starting their own businesses, employing neighbors, and laying down roots with their families to become proactive members of their communities. Our Afghan neighbors make our country stronger and more prosperous. Providing them with permanent protection and a road to citizenship will send a powerful message to the rest of the world that the U.S. keeps its word and remains committed to international protection.
“Congress has passed similar status adjustment legislation in the past. The future of these Afghan families shouldn't be held hostage by partisan politics. The U.S. made a bipartisan commitment to supporting Afghans fleeing persecution - passing the Afghan adjustment act would honor that commitment.”