(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 03/01/2022) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Oklahoma Chapter (CAIR-OK) today issued a statement announcing an upcoming Afghan Advocacy Week and urging Oklahomans to take action to protect the 1,800 Afghan parolees who have been resettled in Oklahoma since September 2021.
SEE: CAIR-OK Afghan Refugee Advocacy Resource Page
“As it currently stands, the only way for our Afghan neighbors to secure their status in the U.S. after feeling from violence is costly, time-consuming legal proceedings that do not even guarantee safe residency,” said CAIR-OK Civil Rights Director Veronica Laizure. “An Afghan Adjustment Act would help them rebuild their lives in safety and confidence.”
Afghan Advocacy Week occurs in advance of the March 11 deadline for the federal government to pass a budget and appropriations bill. Advocates and allies hope for Congress to add an Afghan Adjustment Act to an appropriations bill and for it to pass with bipartisan support. In the week leading up to the March 11 vote, CAIR-OK urges supporters to contact federal delegates and urge them to support an Afghan Adjustment Act in a final omnibus budget vote.
See: Ask Congress to Pass An Afghan Adjustment Act
Background: Following the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in September 2021, thousands of Afghans, many of whom 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. After leaving Afghanistan and being sent to military installations around the world for security vetting, biometric data collection, and health screenings, they were admitted into the U.S. under humanitarian parole, which allows for temporary safety. They must then adjust their legal status within a year of their arrival or risk being sent back to Afghanistan.
The Afghan Adjustment Act, patterned after similar legislation such as the Cuban Adjustment Act following the Cuban revolution, would allow Afghan evacuees to apply to become lawful permanent residents. It would place Afghan arrivals on the same footing they would have enjoyed had they been admitted to the U.S. under the typical refugee resettlement program, rather than through the confusing and chaotic evacuation protocols following the fall of Kabul. If Afghan arrivals do not have a clear path to permanent status, they must enter the severely backlogged, expensive, and time-consuming immigration system, which is currently understaffed and unable to fully meet the needs of its current caseload.
SEE: Factsheet Afghan Adjustment Act
“In calling for an Afghan Adjustment Act, we are simply asking Congress to follow through on its promise to care for the Afghans who risked their safety and lives to support the U.S. in its conflicts in their country,” Laizure said. “We owe it to our allies to secure their ability to build a safe, thriving new home in our state and our country.”
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.