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.
CAIR Oklahoma and our allies 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. At the very least, Congress could also push USCIS to establish an asylum office here in Oklahoma to remove the need for long travel and smooth the process.
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.
An asylum office could easily be set up here in Oklahoma using existing resources. Oklahoma accepted 1,800 Afghan newcomers – more per capita than any other state – and now we need assistance to be able to secure a future for every single one of our new neighbors.
Advocacy Packet Materials:
Your advocacy packet contains:
- An “Afghan Advocacy Infographic” in PDF format for emailing and printing and PNG format that can be 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 “Leave Behind Document” that can be printed and left behind at the offices of your federal delegates if you choose to visit them in person.
- A “Contact Script” which gives an example of what you can say in a phone call or email to your Congressperson or Senator, as well as phone numbers for Oklahoma’s whole federal delegation.
Contacting your Federal Delegates
U.S. House of Representatives
District 1: Kevin Hern
202-225-2211 D.C. Office
918-935-3222 Tulsa Office
District 2: Markwayne Mullin
202-225-2701 D.C. Office
918-687-2533 Muskogee Office
District 3: Frank Lucas
202-225-5565 D.C. Office
District 4: Tom Cole
202-225-6165 D.C. Office
405-329-6500 Norman Office
District 5: Stephanie Bice
202-225-2132 D.C. Office
405-300-6890 Oklahoma City Office
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.
“Dear [CONGRESSMAN/CONGRESSWOMAN/SENATOR], I am calling today to respectfully urge you to work with your colleagues in the [HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES/SENATE] and pass an Afghan Adjustment Act, which would help Afghan arrivals secure their permanent legal status in the United States and start new lives in Oklahoma. Failing that, we need you to push USCIS to establish an asylum office here in Oklahoma to serve our new neighbors. These people risked their lives to help the U.S. in Afghanistan, and our current immigration attorneys and legal system are severely overburdened. Oklahoma stepped up to show the Oklahoma standard in welcoming 1800 Afghan refugees – more per capita than any other state – and now we need an Afghan Adjustment Act to ensure that these families can secure their status and become part of the fabric of the Oklahoma community. Thank you.”