December 23, 2022

Coalition Outraged by Failure to Include Afghan Adjustment Act in FY23 Omnibus

WASHINGTON D.C.The Evacuate Our Allies Coalition strongly condemns the decision to exclude the Afghan Adjustment Act from the FY23 Omnibus spending bill.

This decision will have a grievous impact on the 80,000 Afghan evacuees already resettled across the country who now find themselves in legal uncertainty as their humanitarian parole to stay legally in the U.S. expires in the coming year. The omission of the Afghan Adjustment Act – which saw broad support among the public and in Congress – from the must-pass spending legislation also has consequences for the tens of thousands who have been left behind under Taliban rule who are in immediate danger. By not honoring our promise to our Afghan allies, Congress is causing an even greater moral injury to our U.S. military veterans who served in Afghanistan for over two decades, thus demonstrating U.S. Congress’ complicity in leaving allies behind.

“In the last week, dozens of retired military leaders and the nation’s leading veteran groups called on Congressional leadership to bring the bill to a vote – following millions of messages that were sent to Congress in support of the bill and the Act having broad bipartisan support,” said Susannah Cunningham, co-chair of EOA Legislative Working Group. “Congress now shares every bit of the blame and ire of allies and veterans who rightly feel betrayed by their actions and that once again, allies and at-risk Afghans have been left high and dry. That they did this on the same day that the Taliban announced that women are barred from attending university encapsulates well the callousness of the Minority Leader’s obstruction.”

This is the first Congress in U.S. history to fail to pass an adjustment act for U.S. wartime evacuees – as it did for Cubans after the rise of Castro, Vietnamese and Cambodians after the fall of Saigon, and multiple groups of Iraqis following American military engagements there. The war in Afghanistan was America’s longest war in its history. The world is watching how we treat our Afghan allies, which will undoubtedly impact their willingness to help the U.S. in future conflicts.

“Today, it is not only Afghans who were disappointed and ignored by their allies, but the top military commanders from America’s Afghanistan war, leading veteran groups, women leaders who stood up to the Taliban, faith groups, and three out of four Americans, all who wanted to see Afghans receive lasting protection to stay safely in the U.S. through the bipartisan negotiated Afghan Adjustment Act,” said Helal Massomi, co-chair of EOA Legislative Working Group. “Sen. Grassley and Sen. McConnell chose to forget all the promises made to our allies who fought alongside us for more than twenty years.”

Republican Senator Charles Grassley, who criticized the August 2021 evacuation of Afghanistan, has now helped sink this crucial legislation. Grassley raised unfounded concerns about vetting, even as the bill includes the strongest possible vetting language for asylum seekers.

Evacuate our Allies will continue to advocate for Afghans left behind and work to ensure that those who arrived in the U.S. after the 2021 evacuation will be afforded the opportunity to apply for legal permanent residency.

Evacuate Our Allies is a coalition of over 80 faith organizations, refugee and immigration groups, veterans and veteran service organizations, human and civil rights advocates, and Afghan American community organizations working to advance government accountability and action in fulfilling promises to provide safe passage, welcome, and protection to at-risk Afghans following the conclusion of the decades-long U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.