One Year Later: Evangelical Leaders Urge Congress To Allow Afghans To Pursue Permanent Legal Status
Authored by Matthew Soerens and originally published on evangelicalimmigrationtable.com
With the one-year anniversary of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul, several prominent evangelical leaders have sent a letter to Congress, urging members to pass legislation that would allow Afghans who were evacuated and paroled into the United States to apply for permanent legal status.
Because of the unique urgency of the evacuation, most Afghans who were brought to the U.S. were not formally admitted as refugees. In most cases, Afghans were admitted via humanitarian parole, which only allows them to stay and work lawfully in the U.S. temporarily, with most lacking a direct path to apply for permanent legal status.
Earlier this month, a bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act, which would allow Afghans to apply for permanent status, was introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress.
“As individuals and church communities have welcomed and built friendships with Afghan arrivals over the past year, they have heard the significant stress that this indefinite status has placed on these new residents of their communities,” the letter notes. “We need Congress to act quickly… passing legislation to allow Afghans paroled into the U.S. to apply for permanent legal status.
The letter also highlights evangelical Christians’ ongoing concern for Afghans and their family members who remain at risk — stuck in Afghanistan or in precarious situations in neighboring countries.
The following are quotes from several leaders of evangelical organizations who signed the letter:
Myal Greene, President & CEO, World Relief:
“Over the past year, World Relief has had the privilege of resettling approximately 4,000 Afghans who fled Taliban persecution and have been welcomed by communities throughout the United States. Americans have shown unprecedented hospitality welcoming thousands of new Afghan neighbors. Swiftly passing the Afghan Adjustment Act will help ensure we treat Afghans as well as we treat other refugees. We urge Congress to act immediately to pass it into law and listen to the voices of people who have helped to welcome new Afghan neighbors, including thousands of local churches that have stepped up to build communities of love and welcome to receive them.”
Walter Kim, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Evangelical Christians and churches have helped resettle our Afghan allies whose lives were threatened by the Taliban. But these new neighbors still face bureaucratic hurdles to securing the long-term status that other refugees receive. On the one-year anniversary of the fall of Kabul, we call on Congress to resolve this issue without further delay.”
Chris Palusky, President & CEO, Bethany Christian Services:
“Over the last year, tens of thousands of Afghans have fled persecution or death as they sought refuge in the United States — but without having been granted refugee status upon arrival, they were left in limbo, not knowing if they would have a pathway to achieve permanent residency. We applaud the recent introduction of the bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act and urge Congress to pass it quickly in order to finally provide certainty for these men, women, and children. In the meantime, Bethany will continue working with churches and communities across our nation to tangibly serve our neighbors who long for peace, stability, and security.”
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“In almost every Latino congregation in this country there are church members who know personally the stress of living with an immigration document that bears an expiration date, whether they are individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Temporary Protected Status or a temporary visa. We don’t want our new Afghan neighbors to face this uncertainty, so we urge Congress to quickly consider and pass the Afghan Adjustment Act. And we pray that there will be a down payment on further bipartisan legislation to ensure that Dreamers, long-term TPS recipients, and others who have lived for too long with perpetual ‘temporary’ status can pursue permanent legal status and citizenship in the country they consider their home.”
Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent, The Wesleyan Church:
“Wesleyans throughout the country are among the many evangelical Christians who have eagerly stepped up to welcome our Afghan allies, offering friendship and practical support as they rebuild their lives in the United States. As we do our part as churches and individual citizens, we are praying that Congress will do what only it can do, pass bipartisan legislation quickly to ensure that Afghans can apply for permanent legal status and eventually citizenship. Our strong desire is to see our new neighbors flourish and be given formal refugee status to ensure their due process under our national laws.”