The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in August 2021 has caused tens of thousands of Afghans to flee, often in desperation. Many others seeking exile are still looking for a safe passage out of the country.
Founded in 1946, the American Immigration Lawyers Association is an association of lawyers and law professors who practice and teach immigration law.
AILA calls for the swift passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act to make life easier. It welcomes the introduction of the bipartisan, bicameral Afghan Adjustment Act, which would help Afghans fleeing the Taliban takeover find safety in the United States.
This bill allows the U.S. to keep its promises to Afghans who have served alongside U.S. troops for 20 years.
AILA President Jeremy McKinney said, “We applaud the bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives who have come together to propose legislation to protect the tens of thousands of people who fled Afghanistan after the U.S. departure led to a Taliban takeover.
This includes those already here on humanitarian parole, those seeking special immigrant visas or referenced as P-1 or P-2 under the U.S. refugee admissions program, as well as Afghans who have assisted the U.S. mission and remain at risk in Afghanistan.
Expectations of the legislation
This legislation would be a game changer, allowing attorneys who currently help build complex asylum cases to move to a much more streamlined process, help many more vulnerable people, and ensure that individuals are properly vetted. If this bill does not pass, the already overburdened asylum and immigration court systems will be strained.”AILA Director of Government Relations Shev Dalal-Dheini added, “As we mark the one-year anniversary of the fall of Kabul next week, this bill is frankly overdue.
Afghans who are in the United States on humanitarian parole face a legal vacuum when their parole expires.
Passing the Afghan Adjustment Act is a down payment on what we owe our Afghan allies for the risks they have taken for our country.
This is not an unprecedented action; the U.S. has done the same for others caught up in conflicts or humanitarian crises involving the U.S., such as the Cuban revolution, the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, and U.S. military actions in Iraq.
AILA urges Congress to quickly pass this legislation so that AILA and its members can quickly step up to the plate and help Afghan nationals cross the finish line.”
The Situation of Afghans
Countless Afghans are at risk of being targeted for their past work or association with coalition forces, the former Afghan government, international development programs, media, civil society, and other human rights organizations.
Women and girls and their families, especially those who fear they will no longer be able to work or study, also want to flee the country.
Many fear persecution or reprisals under the Taliban regime and are looking to asylum or other avenues for safe migration abroad. Some Afghans already abroad seek temporary protection or permanent legal status in a host country.
Who was evacuated from Afghanistan ?
In the days following the Taliban takeover in August, a U.S.-supervised multinational airlift helped many international passport holders and Afghans flee on hundreds of hastily coordinated evacuation flights from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
U.S. Pentagon officials said the U.S.-coordinated airlift has evacuated nearly 125,000 people.
Among the Afghans evacuated with their families were those who had been issued visas because of their service with coalition military forces or worked for foreign-funded programs.
A smaller number of Afghans who had applied for visas or asylum out of fear of persecution for their identity were also able to board planes as refugees, as were those with family members living as citizens abroad on the basis of family reunification.
Do Afghans have the right to leave the country ?
Under international human rights law, everyone has the right to leave their own country and everyone lawfully within a country has the right to freedom of movement within that country.
Restrictions on these rights can only be imposed when they are prescribed by law, have a legitimate purpose, and are a proportionate response to a legitimate government objective.
Taliban authorities reportedly stated that they did not want Afghans to leave the country. They assured that Afghan citizens with foreign travel permits could travel, but the implementation of this provision violates the right to freedom of movement.
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