In August 2021, the U.S. withdrew its military forces from Afghanistan after a 20-year conflict. As part of the Doha agreement, signed by then-President Trump in February 2020, the U.S. agreed to a complete withdrawal of military forces by September 2021. As the Afghan government collapsed, the Taliban quickly seized control of the Kabul and instituted martial law. Thousands of Afghans – those who worked alongside the U.S. military or other forces, as well as ethnic and religious minorities already under threat – have been forced to flee their homes in fear of kidnap, torture, and execution. Since January 2021, an estimated 680,000 have been displaced inside the country, and 2.2 million Afghan refugees have found refuge outside the country.
Typically, refugees apply for legal status while residing outside the U.S.; however, the rapid withdrawal from Kabul necessitated a different process for the 65,000 Afghans being evacuated by the U.S.
Afghan arrivals come to the U.S. and undergo background checks, security screening, and health checks. Most Afghan arrivals are on temporary legal status of humanitarian parole for up to two years. They must then apply to adjust their status after being resettled in their new homes in order to stay in the U.S. permanently. Applying for permanent legal status is a long and challenging process, and if they are not able to secure it before their temporary status expires, they risk being returned to the hands of the Taliban. In addition, asylum applications require an interview in an asylum court. The nearest asylum office is in Houston, over 400 miles away – a journey that is onerous, if not impossible, for families and their advocates to manage. The federal government has said it will expedite these applications, but the current legal pathways available to Afghan arrivals leave many uncertainties to obtaining permanent legal status. An Afghan Adjustment Act would help alleviate those uncertainties and provide a better legal pathway for adjustment of status.
Currently, the American immigration system is severely backlogged. There are nearly 400,000 affirmative asylum claims in processing without counting the tens of thousands that will be added if an Afghan Adjustment Act is not passed.
In July 2023, a bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act was reintroduced in Congress. We need your help: We must encourage Congress to pass a bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act, which would provide a pathway to permanent legal status in the U.S. and secure our Afghan neighbors’ ability to resettle and build a new life here. Our federal advocates tell us that Oklahoma’s Senate delegation is particularly crucial to getting this bill passed.
Congress has previously passed similar legislation to help refugees secure legal status in the U.S. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 allowed Cubans who fled the regime of Fidel Castro to become lawful permanent residents after one year. Since its passage, over 1.2 million Cubans have obtained lawful permanent resident status and built communities, businesses, and families, making incredible contributions to their communities. A similar act would allow Oklahoma to lead the way in securing futures for our Afghan friends and helping them to start new lives as our Oklahoma neighbors.
Advocacy Packet Materials:
Your advocacy packet contains:
- An “Afghan Advocacy Infographic” in PDF form that can be printed or shared on social media. This helps to educate your friends, family, and social connections on the background facts about Afghan arrivals and the kinds of Congressional movement that we need.
- A Background Sheet and Contact Script with background information and a suggested script for calling/emailing your Senator.
Contacting your Senator:
405-231-4941 Oklahoma City Office
202-224-5754 D.C. Office
405-208-8841 Oklahoma City Office
202-224-4721 D.C. Office
Emailing your Federal Delegates
The packet contains phone numbers that were available on each congressperson’s website. If you choose to communicate by email, you can adjust the script below after adjusting it with the proper names and titles.
“Hello, my name is ______and I am one of your constituents from (City, zip code). I am (writing/calling) to share my support of the Afghan Adjustment Act and encourage our elected leaders to show the same. Our great state has over 2,000 of these Afghan allies that have risked their lives to help our country and have faced immense risk and trauma relocating to their new homes.
Countless individuals, non-profits, inter-faith volunteers and more have embraced these new neighbors, and they have already become integral part of our home state. They are families, coworkers, and friends who risked their lives to help our country’s mission.
If you have personal experience with Afghan resettlement, share here! Your stories can help our leaders understand the human impact of their decisions. For more guidance on storytelling for advocacy, click here!
I want to urge you to help pass this bill so that we maintain our promise to these allies of the United States. Having accepted the most Afghan allies per capita, Oklahoma should lead this effort to ensure their path to remain safely in Oklahoma. Please vote yes on the Afghan Adjustment Act!”