Washington [US]: As Afghan refugees have been living in the US without a permanent legal status following the Taliban’s take over in Afghanistan, American lawmakers introduced a bill on Tuesday to provide them citizenship.
The Afghan Adjustment Act, if approved by both chambers, could eliminate uncertainty for Afghan evacuees, some whom had only a year after arriving in the U.S. to secure a legal pathway to remain in the country, The Hill reported.
The bill allows those who were brought to the US during the evacuation or in the year since to apply to become legal permanent residents after either one or two years of residing in the country.
“Giving our Afghan allies a chance to apply for permanent legal status is the right and necessary thing to do,” Senator Amy Klobuchar, one of the bill’s authors, said in a release.
“This bipartisan legislation will help provide these newly arrived Afghans who have sacrificed so much for our country with the legal certainty they deserve as they begin their lives in the US It’s important to do what we can to help our Afghan friends find stability, opportunity, and community in their new home.”
Lindsey Graham, the bill’s author said that she is looking forward to working with her colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to deal with the Afghan parolee problem in a manner that enhances the US national security and keeps the commitment to those who helped us at their own peril.
“This legislation starts us down a road of creating a strong vetting program to protect our national security while allowing for Afghans who risked their lives for America to move forward in the process, and while determining what to do with other parolees we brought to the U.S. after our hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. Most have no place to go, and it is imperative that we protect our own nation while also not abandoning those who were there for us in the fight. This is a complicated endeavour, and we will seek input from our colleagues as we try to move forward,” she said in a release.
The legislation is modelled after other efforts, including bills passed by Congress following the evacuation of allies at the end of the Vietnam War, and retains provisions regarding security vetting.
The bill includes other provisions that aim to aid an estimated 100,000 or more Afghans still remaining in the country made vulnerable either by their association with the U.S. or their involvement in various pro-Democracy efforts and human rights campaigns.
The Afghan Adjustment Act would expand the SIV program to include four previously omitted groups, including the Female Tactical Teams of Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command, the Afghan Air Force, and the Special Mission Wing of Afghanistan
A companion bill was filed in the House by Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Peter Meijer.