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Two Years After Military Withdrawal, IRAP Reflects on Continued U.S. Responsibility to At-Risk Afghans


August 30, 2023


Spencer Tilger |

Two Years After Military Withdrawal, IRAP Reflects on Continued U.S. Responsibility to At-Risk Afghans

(New York, NY) – Today marks two years since the United States military presence in Afghanistan ended and the Taliban regained control of the country. 

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) has long advocated for efficient and accessible pathways to safety for at-risk Afghans—including Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants who supported the U.S. military in Afghanistan—and continues to provide direct legal representation, up-to-date legal resources, litigation, and policy advocacy to and on behalf of Afghan refugees.

Sarbaz, an IRAP SIV client who recently resettled to Virginia, said:

“As you reflect on the two years since the fall of Kabul, I ask that you remember the Afghans who put their own lives in danger to save American troops. We sacrificed so much, and many of us have paid dearly for it. When the United States needed us, we supported and protected you. Now, we ask that you stand with us as well.”

IRAP Policy Director, Sunil Varghese, said:

“During the last two years, the Taliban has embarked on a campaign of reprisals and human rights abuses, yet there remains no functional refugee program to protect Afghans. Long-standing systemic issues made it impossible for most Afghan allies to leave Afghanistan before the hasty withdrawal, and the U.S. government continues to do too little to bring at-risk Afghans to safety. For Afghans who did make it to the United States, Congress has yet to pass the bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act to put relocated Afghans on a pathway to citizenship so that they no longer have to fear returning to Afghanistan. 

While this inaction has deeply affected Afghans and their extended communities, it is not too late to act. Much has changed during the last two years, but the responsibility of the United States to fulfill its promise to protect at-risk Afghans remains more urgent than ever.”

IRAP urgently calls on the United States to set forth a functional refugee program for Afghans in the region, and continues to challenge the U.S. government’s delays in SIV processing through the class action lawsuit Afghan & Iraqi Allies v. Blinken. Since the withdrawal, the federal government has attempted to terminate the previous court-ordered plan to speed up processing, a move IRAP continues to oppose with support from veterans and Afghan-American community groups. The government’s appeal is pending before the D.C. circuit court of appeals.

In a blogpost about the case, IRAP Litigation Director, Mariko Hirose, said:

“What’s at stake in this appeal is accountability. We stand with our clients in ensuring that the United States cannot walk away so easily from the commitments it made to the Afghan people.”

Additional Background

  • Read this update about the Afghan & Iraqi Allies v. Blinken class action lawsuit: HERE 
  • Access Afghan Humanitarian Parole FOIA data from IRAP and the American Immigration Council: HERE 
  • Read IRAP’s summary of FOIA data about the shortcomings of Project Rabbit: HERE