FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2021
EVACUATE OUR ALLIES COALITION ADVOCATES ASSESS LATEST EFFORTS TO PROTECT AND WELCOME AFGHANS
Listen to a Recording of Today’s Press Call Here
(New York, NY) – On a press call today, advocates from the Evacuate Our Allies coalition discussed the latest in ongoing efforts to support recent Afghan arrivals in the United States and to protect Afghans still in danger in Afghanistan and in third countries. Speakers included affected Afghans, veterans, policy experts, faith leaders, and members of the Afghan-American community.
The call coincides with the Evacuate Our Allies Virtual Congressional Advocacy Days in the lead-up to Veterans Day to urge Members of Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act to allow new Afghan arrivals to apply for lawful permanent residence status and press the Biden Administration to continue evacuations out of Afghanistan.
The call featured stories and remarks from Afghans and those who support them; updates on legislation; and recommendations from a new report from the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), InterAction, and Human Rights First calling on the Biden administration to create viable humanitarian pathways for tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans who remain in danger inside Afghanistan or in third countries.
“Arian”, SIV holder stuck in Afghanistan, said in a recorded statement, “We trusted the United States like a friend, but we are still waiting for support. Even with my SIV approval, we cannot make it out of the country. We need the U.S. government to help us get out of the country through the evacuation process, or through some arrangement with neighboring countries. Then we could find our way and we would have hope again.”
Bilal Askaryar, Member of Afghans for a Better Tomorrow, said, “It’s been four months and women in Afghanistan have been told to stay home from work, and it’s been three months and girls were banned from high school. It’s been three months since the drone strike that the United States at first denied but tragically killed ten civilians, including seven children. The war in Afghanistan is not over. It’s vital we step up and protect the activists and leaders who weren’t able to leave, and pass the Afghan Adjustment Act for the Afghans who were evacuated.”
Spojmie Ahmady Nasiri, Immigration Attorney/AACO board member, said, “The Afghan Adjustment Act will allow hundreds of thousands of Afghans the chance to obtain their legal status without waiting for many years living in legal immigration limbo. It is estimated that about 40% of those paroled in thus far are eligible for SIV. The vast majority of the Afghan parolees will have to apply for asylum. The current U.S. immigration system is not capable of handling the influx of hundreds of thousands of applications that will be filed by Afghans.”
Rick Burns, President, Karadah Project International, and Member of Veterans for American Ideals, said, “We are receiving daily desperate pleas for help. It is heart wrenching and terribly difficult to have these conversations with people who you feel very personal relationships with, yet who are in such horrible danger and in such a desperate situation in Afghanistan. For veterans, these are soul deep and personal issues. These are not employees or contractors; these are personal friends that shared dangers with us. We have an obligation to remove them from the danger that they are in by virtue of the service that they provided to each of us.”
Rev. Noel Andersen, Director of Grassroots Organizing, Church World Service, said, “Across faith traditions, we are called to love our neighbor and to welcome immigrants and refugees. We have a moral obligation to respond to the dire situation in Afghanistan as tens of thousands of allies and at-risk Afghans remain stranded in danger, left behind by the U.S. government. Thousands of faith communities and partner organizations from across the United States have already come forward to say they want to help resettle Afghan families and rebuild the refugee program. Congress and the administration must welcome vulnerable Afghans who remain overseas, pass an Afghan Adjustment Act to provide our new neighbors with the chance to become lawful permanent residents, and rebuild the U.S. refugee resettlement program. We are called as a nation at this moment to act justly and welcome now.”
Sunil Varghese, Policy Director, IRAP, said, “The U.S. military and diplomatic presence in Afghanistan may have ended in August, but the U.S. government’s obligations did not, and the Biden Administration must provide immediate, realistic pathways to safety for these communities. Through a unified and coordinated executive branch response, the Biden Administration can fulfill America’s promise of safe passage to members of these groups who were left behind.”
Read the new report from IRAP, InterAction, and Human Rights First, “Fulfilling America’s Promise: Options to make U.S. humanitarian protection pathways viable for at-risk Afghans”
Learn more about the Evacuate Our Allies Virtual Congressional Advocacy Days here.
The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) develops and enforces a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons. Mobilizing direct legal aid, litigation, and systemic advocacy, IRAP serves the world’s most persecuted individuals and empowers the next generation of human rights leaders.