March 15, 2023

DHS Must Not Wait on Afghans’ Extension As It Did For Ukrainians

WASHINGTON D.C. The Evacuate Our Allies coalition commends the Department of Homeland Security for announcing that they will allow parole extensions for Ukrainians who arrived in the United States early last year. The coalition urges the Biden administration to immediately establish a streamlined, equitable, and efficient process for Afghan parolees to request re-parole and obtain an automatic extension of work authorization. We further urge the administration to improve Temporary Protected Status (TPS) processing for Afghans and immediately re-designate TPS to benefit more recent arrivals. 

“The Biden administration knew exactly when Ukrainians’ parole was set to expire and only provided parole extensions for this population when that expiration was imminent,” said Seelai Karzai, Afghanistan Advocacy Campaign Manager for the Evacuate Our Allies Coalition. “DHS should not wait until the brink of expiration – or for some, after to release this guidance for any vulnerable people who have suffered the trauma of war and displacement and have been granted humanitarian protection, like Afghans. The Biden administration should now take steps to provide a streamlined pathway for Afghan evacuees to extend their parole before it begins to expire later this summer.” 

Afghans in the U.S., like Ukrainians, are in need of an extension of parole status to keep their jobs, provide for their families, and receive vital services to help them find their footing and become integrated into their new communities. It is incumbent on the Biden administration to also consider additional options for temporary protection that ensure continuity in eligibility for and access to federal, state, and local benefits.

Since 2021, over 77,000 Afghans have arrived in the United States on two-year parole. Since then, less than 7 percent have received long-term status. For many of these people, the uncertainty of not knowing what the future holds and events like recent Congressional hearings is traumatizing. 

The Biden administration must accompany their sweeping use of parole with a plan for how and when temporary protections will be extended and how to provide access to longer-term status. To that end, Congress must pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, a bipartisan bill providing a pathway to permanent legal status for Afghans resettled in the United States and expand eligibility for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program.