Afghan immigrants at US-Mexico border face challenges in temporary shelters

TIME magazine reports that Afghan immigrants who have entered the United States through the Mexican border are living in temporary shelters without work, assistance, or government benefits.

According to the magazine, hundreds of Afghan immigrants are currently attempting to cross the border, with over 3,600 having made the journey since the start of 2022. These immigrants do not have the same financial and legal privileges as asylum seekers who were evacuated from Afghanistan with the help of the US government. More than 75,000 of these evacuees were granted humanitarian parole status and access to a wide range of benefits.

For Afghan immigrants who cross the border without parole, finding work is a daunting task, even if they have work experience and skills. They are not eligible for a work permit until five months after filing for asylum. Additionally, language barriers, difficulties in securing legal counsel, and ensuring that their asylum applications are filed in the appropriate court can all present challenges.

Arash Azizzada, a community organizer in New York City, told the TIME that the situation of Afghan immigrants who crossed the southern border is “much more precarious” than that of those who came through official channels. “For us, there is no difference between somebody who comes through an official channel versus an Afghan asylum seeker,” he said, “but the disparity we’ve seen is pretty steep.”

Azizzada pointed out that many of the immigrants who crossed the southern border have ended up in New York City because of its unique shelter laws, which guarantee the right to shelter without residency or income requirements. “If it wasn’t for New York City, a lot of these folks would be sleeping on the street,” he said.