Arkansas Supports Afghan Allies - We Welcome

Arkansas Supports Afghan Allies

It’s been 2 years since Kabul fell to the Taliban, and our Afghan allies are still waiting in limbo. Over 70,000 Afghans have been evacuated to the United States since then using a temporary form of protection called humanitarian parole. While this was a speedy way to remove our allies from danger, it is also a temporary fix that does not offer a path to permanent residency or even a long-term legal status to remain in the United States legally. Our Afghan allies urgently need a solution to prevent long asylum backlogs, uncertainty, or even deportation. 

In July the bipartisan and bicameral Afghan Adjustment Act (H.R. 4627/S.2327) was introduced to address this problem. The introduction of this bill demonstrates that significant progress is being made to provide Afghan allies, other evacuees, and their families the permanency and stability they deserve, but Congress has been unsuccessful in bringing the bill to a vote. The delay is not due to the lack of general support for the bill, but because we’ve seen Senator Tom Cotton block the bill twice, despite recent polling that shows that most American adults (and 70% of evangelical Christians) support the Afghan Adjustment Act. As people of faith, we are deeply concerned that this act of partisanship is leading to a failure to honor the promises that we made as a nation to our Afghan allies. 

The American people have been quick to stand up and welcome our Afghan allies into our communities. We need our leaders to do the same. Please add your name to the petition calling on Senator Cotton to remember the promises made by our government to protect our Afghan allies, and to help us be a country of integrity that keeps our word.

Dear Senator Cotton,

As an Arkansan and a person of faith who honors the importance of keeping our word, I am writing today urging you to support the Afghan Adjustment Act (S.2327)  to ensure that the Afghan evacuees we have brought to the United States will be given an opportunity to seek permanent legal status. While the vast majority of those evacuated to the U.S. qualify either for Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) or refugee status, due to the expedited nature of their evacuation, many did not yet have visas and instead entered under humanitarian parole. Since humanitarian parole is a temporary solution and does not confer lawful immigration status, many of our new Afghan neighbors are in a state of legal limbo. While many would have a valid asylum claim, they do not have the necessary paperwork to present that claim in court due to the chaos of the evacuation, and the danger posed to their lives by the Taliban in possessing such documents. Furthermore, our current asylum system already has a backlog that will take years to clear. Our Afghan allies need a solution now to prevent long waits, uncertainty, or even deportation. It’s been two years now since the evacuation, which further complicates efforts to file for asylum.

An Afghan Adjustment Act to create a pathway to legal immigration status for Afghans admitted through humanitarian parole would not be unprecedented. We’ve seen similar measures in the past, such as the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1966 and multiple pieces of legislation over a span of many years to adjust status for those who arrived from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia after the Vietnam War. An adjustment act would also provide an opportunity to shore up security vulnerabilities and complete any background checks that could be helpful in processing immigration applications.

I am so grateful to see the way that our nation and our state has come together to welcome the Afghan evacuees who have arrived in recent years, but I am grieved at the way that our national leaders have so quickly forgotten the promises made to our allies during a time of war. It is my hope that you will join with everyday Americans in our support of the Afghan people - especially those who served alongside our troops. Our Afghan neighbors have already been waiting for far too long, but I am hopeful that our leaders can come together to relieve our allies from their current state of limbo–both for their personal well being and for the integrity of our nation. I urge you to be part of the solution in making America a country that keeps its promises.


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