Is the United States doing enough for Afghans seeking to flee? | TV shows
Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. GMT:
Thousands of people in Afghanistan who hope the United States will give them a lifeline against possible Taliban retaliation are facing a long wait, with family members discouraged by the prospects of loved ones getting a safe passage.
They pin their hopes on the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) granting them humanitarian parole, which the United States has applied to the majority of the approximately 76,000 Afghans who have been airlifted from Afghanistan in July and August 2021 when US troops withdrew.
Humanitarian parole is a USCIS program that allows individuals to temporarily stay in the United States without a visa “for urgent humanitarian reasons or an important public interest.” Those who are approved and move to the United States can then make further applications for semi-permanent or permanent status.
But the bulk of the 43,000 applications USCIS has received since July remain pending. And the vast majority of completed cases have ended in denial, with USCIS saying 1,500 applications have been denied so far. Only about 170 cases have been conditionally approved.
Lawyers and advocates for Afghan applicants to the humanitarian parole program now fear that the number of denials to date is indicative of a trend – and that the vast majority of outstanding applications are also being rejected. Many applications come from Afghans who worked for US and coalition forces in Afghanistan before the Taliban took power in August and who now live in daily fear of reprisals. Other Afghans who have crossed into neighboring countries are also eagerly hoping for a positive outcome.
The urgency of the claimants’ plight is fueled by an economic crisis in Afghanistan that has left millions starving and in need of assistance. But as foreign aid to the country has dwindled following the Taliban takeover, Afghan advocacy groups say US plans to split $7 billion in frozen Afghan central bank assets between the humanitarian aid and compensation for the families of the attacks of September 11, 2001 will only make the situation in Afghanistan worse.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll learn about the obstacles facing Afghan applicants for humanitarian parole and whether the US immigration system is humanely rising to the challenge.
On this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Arash Azizzada, @87films
Co-Founder, Afghans for a Better Future
Sediqa Fahimi, @FahimiSediqa
Laila Ayub, @ayublaila
Lawyer and organizer