US government extends residency for thousands of evacuees from Afghanistan

The US government is extending temporary work permits and protections from deportation for tens of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan who arrived in the US after the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, according to AP.

The move comes as congressional efforts to find a permanent solution have stalled.

The protections were initially given in 2021 and were renewed last year, but have now been extended again for another two years. The refugees are part of Operation Allies Welcome, which promised them a path to life in the U.S. for their service to the country. Many of the refugees worked with U.S. officials as translators, interpreters, and other partners.

| Group of US Army veterans accuse Joe Biden of ‘dishonesty’ over Afghanistan withdrawal
| US government is accused of breaking its promise to allies left in Afghanistan

While some have called the move a bandaid solution, others have praised it. Shawn Van Diver, head of #AfghanEvac, a coalition supporting Afghan resettlement efforts, said, “Afghans have been languishing on our shores awaiting a long-term answer and Congress continues to play games with their future,” but added that he was glad the Biden administration would allow them to stay.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers had hoped to resolve the refugees’ immigration status as part of a year-end government funding package in December, but the effort failed due to Republican opposition. Some lawmakers are hopeful that the addition of advanced screening measures to the bill can gain the support needed to pass in Congress.

Helal Massomi, a policy advisor at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and an evacuee from Afghanistan, said, “Congress needs to keep our nation’s promise and make it clear to Afghans that this country is more than their temporary safe haven — it’s their home.”