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IRAP Calls on Biden Administration to Continue Evacuation Efforts, Outlines Steps for U.S. Government to Protect At-Risk Afghans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

September 2, 2021


Spencer Tilger


(New York – NY)  – This week, the United States completed its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and ended the U.S. government’s 11th hour evacuation efforts of Afghans and Americans from Hamid Karzai International Airport. Yesterday, a U.S. State Department official confirmed that the majority of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants were not evacuated in the process.

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is disappointed but not surprised by this admission, which reflects the tragic reality of the many IRAP clients left behind. For years, IRAP has condemned the slow and error-ridden implementation of the backlogged SIV program, which prevented threatened Afghan allies from receiving the protection they were promised. The rushed and chaotic nature of the evacuation effort could have been avoided, had the United States fulfilled its legal obligation to these allies prior to the withdrawal.

In response to the unconscionable failure to protect Afghan allies, IRAP has released recommendations for the Biden administration and Congress to take continued steps to protect at-risk Afghans. 

IRAP’s recommendations include:

  • The Biden administration must make efforts to continue to evacuate all at-risk Afghans by land or air in coordination with regional governments.
  • All evacuated Afghans should have their applications adjudicated or be paroled into the United States by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should create a dedicated parole program for at-risk Afghans who were not evacuated and remain in Afghanistan or third countries.
  • The Department of State and USCIS should operationalize robust refugee processing in countries hosting large numbers of Afghan refugees, especially for U.S.-affiliated Afghans referred through the Priority 1 or 2 programs. 
  • Congress must ensure that paroled Afghans have full access to refugee resettlement benefits.
  • Congress should pass legislation to create a pathway to permanent immigration status for at-risk Afghans in the United States.

“The evacuation was too little too late, but there is still more to be done,” said Sunil Varghese, Policy Director at IRAP. “The promise the United States made to Afghan allies will not be fulfilled until they are safe in the United States and on a pathway to permanent immigration status in their new home. The Biden Administration and Congress must take immediate action to ensure that at-risk Afghans can safely leave the country and do not languish for years in legal limbo.”

To view the full recommendations, click here.