Sun, 04 Dec 2022

Washington [US], November 21 (ANI): Evacuated Afghans in the US demanded permanent legal status in the country and long-term certainty by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act before the 117th Congress terminates in December.

A large number of employers including Door Dash, Uber, Airbnb, The U.S Chamber of Commerce and several other organizations called on the Congress to pass Afghan Adjustment Act before December this year.

The letter has been sent to Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Republican Leaders McConnell and McCarthy.

Afghans who arrived as part of Operation Allies Welcome are already making deep connections in communities across the country, and are enriching the social and economic fabric of our nation. They are our neighbors, our friends, and our co-workers. According to recently released data from the International Rescue Committee, this population is projected to make $1.4 billion in potential annual earnings, and contribute $189 million in taxes in their first year of work. We urge you to support this legislation that will afford our Afghan employees, neighbors, and community members the opportunity to remain in this country on a permanent basis, as well as assist Afghans who remain at-risk in their home country, according to the letter.

According to an International Rescue Committee (IRC) press release, in a letter sent to Congress, employers and business associations across the US emphasized the contributions that Afghans are already making to the social and economic fabric of the country after being in the U.S. for little over a year, and that supporting the Afghan Adjustment Act is not only morally right but also makes economic sense. New IRC data has revealed that Afghans are projected to contribute $1.4 billion in earnings and nearly $200 million in taxes in their first year of employment alone.

Following the chaotic US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, more than 76,000 US-affiliated and at-risk Afghans have completed security vetting and were welcomed into the United States. However, unlike immigrant visa or refugee programs, most of our new Afghan neighbors do not have a clear pathway to permanent status - they can only remain in the United States temporarily. As such, these Afghans who entered the U.S. under Operation Allies Welcome find themselves under a cloud of legal uncertainty, as their temporary protections and work authorization are set to expire two years after arrival.

Afghans are already thriving in their new communities, but the continued uncertainty over their future in the US poses challenges for many American employers and made it more difficult for all evacuees to find stable, long-term employment. At a time when many American companies are struggling mightily to meet their workforce needs, the Afghan Adjustment Act will help many businesses fill open positions that have gone unfilled for quite some time, the letter reads.The Afghan Adjustment Act would allow certain Afghan evacuees to apply for permanent status after one year or two years after they entered the country. It would relieve pressure on the asylum and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) processes, which are both enormously backlogged and take years to adjudicate individual applications. Critically, it would also ensure that our Afghan neighbors, who fled unspeakable circumstances to find safety, neither lose their jobs after twoyears nor find themselves in the United States without legal status.

The effect and purpose of this legislation is to put our new Afghan neighbors on the same legal footing they would have enjoyed had they been admitted through the US refugee resettlement program, while also ensuring they have gone through strict and necessary vetting procedures. After the harrowing experience of saving themselves and their families from violence and putting their lives on the line to support the United States military, they deserve the stability that the Afghan Adjustment Act would provide, it added.

The passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act is about more than providing certainty to our new Afghan neighbors; it is a demonstration of global leadership that safeguards national security. This legislation shows that the U.S. upholds its commitments to people seeking safety and a failure to pass this bill could erode global trust in America. Importantly, the bill mandates that applicants attend in-person interviews, undergo additional security screening, and many evacuees will have to pass a joint DHS-DOD vetting database. It will require every Afghan who applies for adjustment to be re-vetted and meet the vetting requirements equivalent to those used for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Passing this bill is an investment in U.S. national security at home and abroad, the letter added.

Over the past year, communities across the country have shown an outpouring of support for their new Afghan neighbors. Their economic and communal contributions, as well as the service many of them provided to the United States in Afghanistan, are undeniable, and our nation will certainly be worse off -- economically and otherwise -- if they are forced to remain in legal limbo regarding their status in the U.S. Congress must act swiftly and enact the Afghan Adjustment Act before the end of this Congress, it said. (ANI)

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