Tthe collapse of Afghanistan’s government at the hands of the Taliban forced thousands of the nation’s people to flee their homeland, including many of those who served as translators and other aides to US military forces.
But for more than a year and a half, the U.S. has failed to offer immigration assistance to most Afghans who helped U.S. forces, which would have allowed them to stay in the country on a more permanent basis.
According to the International Rescue Committee, USA admitted 76,000 Afghans as part of Operation Allies Welcome.
In Britain, the government promised to allow Afghans who helped British forces to build a life of safety and security. Instead, many who have made the perilous journey from Afghanistan to the UK have been told they face deportation.
A pilot who served with distinction escaped Afghanistan even as his wife and young family stayed behind and arrived in Britain in a small boat as there was no safe and legal way to escape the Taliban, as British and NATO forces left him and his squadron behind. Now he has been told by British authorities that he faces being sent to Rwanda under a controversial immigration policy.
“Everyone knew that one day the American and British armies would leave because they had supported us for a long time. But when the withdrawal came, our territorial leaders failed us,” said the pilot, who cannot be named to protect his family. The independent Earlier this year.
The independent campaigning for the UK government to give a home to those who fought with Britain against the Taliban. It has been backed by politicians from all parties, as well as religious leaders, senior military figures and celebrities including Sting and director Guy Ritchie.
But Britain is not alone in its failure to fulfill the promises made to those who aided the war effort. Despite broad bipartisan support in both chambers of the US Congress and from the president Joe BidenCongress has failed to live up to its commitments to Afghans despite supportive rhetoric.
Most Afghans who came to America after the withdrawal of US military forces from the country arrived on what is known as humanitarian parole, where people who might otherwise be ineligible for entry into the US are allowed to enter for humanitarian reasons.
“And these people have two years of probation, which is about to expire,” said Shaun VanDiver, the founder of #AfghanEvac and a US Navy veteran. The independent. “The problem with the parolees is that for every other population, where there has been a large influx like this, Congress has approved a status adjustment.”
Adjustment of status would allow persons granted humanitarian parole to adjust their status to permanent residents. In the months following the collapse of the Afghan government and more Afghans entering the United States, a bipartisan group led by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota sponsored the Afghan Adjustment Act.
“It’s strongly supported by veterans (so) it should be must pass,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, told The independent. “But there are all kinds of time pressures, a lot of competing issues.”
Those competing interests meant the bill was not included in must-pass legislation like last year’s omnibus spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act and an aid package for Ukraine, putting many of the people on humanitarian parole at risk lose their status in Augustmarking two years since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told The independent that the United States has had double standards regarding Afghanistan and other nations enduring conflicts.
“I feel that even during the outbreak of Ukraine, we saw the difference in how things are accelerated depending on the country of origin,” she said. “And I think translators and a lot of people … we should really fill up the visa allocations that we have, and we don’t have that yet.”
Mr. VanDiver explained that the Trump administration weakened parts of the immigration system such as special immigrant visas and created massive backlogs by weakening resettlement programs.
“The impact Afghans are feeling right now can be attributed to Stephen Miller and Donald Trump, the way they deliberately deconstructed the system to welcome vulnerable people into our country and care about their inaction,” he said.
The legislation would have to pass the Judiciary Committees of the US House and Senate. Senator Chuck Grassley, who last year served as the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposed the legislation. Mr. Grassley told The independent that at the time he led the GOP on the committee, he spoke to the concerns of other Republican senators.
“I think it would be based on this question of review,” he said. “I think that’s very important. You know, when we have 98 people across the border who haven’t been vetted and they’re on the terrorist watch list, I think we have to be very careful.”
Since then, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the co-sponsors of the Afghan Adjustment Act, has risen to rank as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said lawmakers may act on the Afghan Adjustment Act toward the end of the year when Congress must fund the government.
“I think it’s important that we maintain our commitment to those who helped us in Afghanistan,” Graham said The independent, adding that he is not concerned about missing the August deadline.
“I just want to try to rally the House and the Senate around the concept that we have to do better, and that’s very important,” he said.
Since 2022, Republicans have taken control of the House of Representatives, making it much more difficult to pass legislation in an era of hyper-polarized government. While Graham is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Representative Jim Jordan, an immigration hardliner, now chairs the House Judiciary Committee, making it even more difficult for the bill to pass.
“But it’s okay,” VanDiver said. “As long as we could get (House Majority Leader Steve) Scalise and (House Speaker Kevin) McCarthy to support, then we could do it.”
Until then, VanDiver helped start an Afghanistan Community Ambassadors Program so that all Afghans in the United States can register and receive direct information about immigration.
“It’s supposed to make sure that all Afghans here have access to the same information,” he said. “So it’s not like you have to know anyone.”