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The Biden administration protects Afghans in America from deportation

The Biden administration will offer immigration relief to tens of thousand of Afghans living in the U.S., protecting them from deportation because of the worsening security and economic conditions in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover last January, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday.

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The Biden administration protects Afghans in America from deportation

Alejandro Mayorkas, the Homeland Security Secretary, decided that Afghanistan was too dangerous to deport. He allowed Afghans to apply for Temporary Protection Status (TPS) which would keep them safe from deportation and allow them legal work for 18 months.

This news was reported by CBS News on Wednesday. It is especially significant for the more than 76,000 Afghans who were evacuated from Afghanistan and then resettled in the U.S. following the chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.

The two-year parole humanitarian classification, which is a two year term, was used to allow the evacuees to enter the U.S., but not as traditional refugees. This left thousands without any legal pathway to permanent residency, and they are at risk of being deported if their asylum claims fail.

Mayorkas made his announcement citing the Taliban's attempts to take control of Afghanistan through force, the attacks on civilians by ISIS-K, and socioeconomic conditions including the country's current economic crisis, hunger and insecurity. Mayorkas also mentioned human rights violations by Taliban forces.

Mayorkas stated that TPS would also offer additional protections and assurances for trusted partners and vulnerable Afghans, who have supported U.S. diplomatic, military and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan over 20 years.

U.S. The U.S. immigration law allows the DHS secretary to offer TPS to immigrant in the U.S. when it is determined that their home countries cannot safely accept them due to armed conflict, natural catastrophes, or other "extraordinary" circumstances.

TPS for Afghanistan will only be available to Afghans who have been in the U.S. since March 15. New arrivals will not be eligible for the relief. TPS does not apply to those convicted of certain criminal offenses and has additional eligibility requirements.

A government estimate suggests that approximately 74,500 Afghans living in the U.S. may be eligible for the TPS program. This includes 2,000 immigrants who weren't resettled under Operation Allies Welcome. Operation Allies Welcome was an effort to relocate at-risk Afghan refugees after the fall of Kabul. DHS indicated that this group could also include Afghans living in the U.S. with student visas.

Trump's administration attempted to eliminate TPS protections for hundreds, thousands of immigrant workers in the U.S. as part of its larger efforts to curb humanitarian immigration programs. They argued that this authority should only be used on a very limited basis. These plans were stopped by federal courts.

The Biden administration used TPS authority liberally and expanded eligibility to approximately 500,000 U.S. citizens, including Venezuelans.

The United States established an inter-agency system in order to vet, process, and resettle Afghans in need of protection from the Taliban regime. This was part of the largest ever resettlement operation, which began in the 1970s.

The U.S. completed the first stage of its resettlement operation last month when it relocated all evacuees to permanent processing centers at military bases. According to internal government figures , one-third of Afghan evacuees settled in Texas and California, .

The Parole program allowed the Biden administration quickly to bring Afghan evacuees into the U.S. However, the temporary immigration process doesn't allow beneficiaries to apply for permanent residency or green cards.

According to a December Department of Homeland Security report, nearly 37,000 Afghan evacuees have been determined eligible for permanent residency under the Special Immigrant visa program. This is because they or their immediate families have aided in the American war effort.

The report stated that 36,000 more evacuees do not have a legal path to permanent residency. This leaves them in legal limbo until Congress legalizes or they request asylum from the United States.

Despite the protestations of refugee advocates, Congress has yet to pass an Afghan Adjustment Act. This would have provided green cards for eligible evacuees and put them on a path to U.S citizenship.

President of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Krish O'Mara Vignarajah applauded the TPS classification, saying that it acknowledges the possibility of Afghans being hurt if they return to their homeland. She urged Congress to grant green cards to evacuated Afghans.

"This designation does not end our nation's moral obligation towards Afghans. Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, CBS News, stated that we need to provide stability that only a pathway towards permanent residence can offer. "That's why, we advocated to Congress to deliver lasting safety via the Afghan Adjustment Act."


 

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