US Congress deadlock has left thousands of Afghan refugees at risk of deportation

According to CBS News, thousands of Afghan refugees who were brought to the US after the fall of Kabul are at risk of losing their work permits and facing deportation this summer. Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees, the US outlet reports, who were evacuated to the US after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 are in danger of losing their work permits and deportation protections, unless the Congress takes action.

“As of Feb. 12, the U.S. had approved just 4,775 (of the 77,000) applications from Afghan evacuees who requested asylum or a special visa status for those who aided American forces,” CBS News reports.

In December of last year, the Afghan Adjustment Act, which aimed to broaden the eligibility criteria for special visas to certain Afghan nationals directly employed by US government agencies, failed to pass through Congress, despite receiving support from both political parties.

| US Congress deadlock has left thousands of Afghan refugees dreading their futures

Democrat Congresswoman, Bonnie Watson Coleman, a co-sponsor of the bill, told KabulNow: 

“Our nation was built by those who fled their home countries seeking safer, brighter futures for themselves. It is our moral obligation as Americans to welcome refugees, and that means passing the Afghan Adjustment Act. 

“I am disappointed that this bipartisan legislation was not included in the recent omnibus funding legislation but have hope that an opportunity to pass it will arise in the near future. In the meantime, I remain committed to ensuring that Afghan refugees have the support they need to build new lives in the United States for themselves and their families.”

Aftabuddin Kalakani was evacuated from Kabul just after the Taliban arrived. He worked for both the Afghan and US governments. 

“The Congress deadlock has meant I can’t work, set a business and have access to public services. My family are stuck in Afghanistan,” he told KabulNow. 

Worried for his family, Kalakani said that “I am seen as an enemy by Taliban for my work and for being in America, and so are my family. They are a target and have to keep moving in order to avoid getting caught. And until I have clarity on my future and have a route to permanent residency, I can’t help them.” 

The US  House Committee on Foreign Affairs has already launched its investigation on the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.