Evacuations from Kabul continue after the Taliban takeover
Veterans, policy makers, workers from nongovernmental organizations, and others closely associated with Afghan allies have been working furiously in recent days to locate and aid those trying to flee from Kabul in an effort they refer to as a “digital Dunkirk.” Multiple nonprofit organizations and networks of lawmakers, veterans, and volunteers have also been sharing information, raising funds, and trying to get names on State Department evacuation lists. Beyond identifying those who need to be evacuated, a major challenge remains in getting past the Taliban checkpoints to reach the Kabul airport.
Approximately 11,000 people were evacuated from Kabul over the weekend, bringing the total number evacuated since August 14 to about 28,000.
As more people are evacuated from Afghanistan, the question of where they will go is unclear. President Biden stated on Sunday that there would be no direct flights from Kabul to any U.S. airports. While some SIV applicants with completed security screenings were already brought to Fort Lee in Virginia, and more are expected to arrive in Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, others are expected to be taken to third countries. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the U.S. is working on an agreement with Colombia to take in as many as 4,000 Afghan refugees temporarily until they can finish their processing.
Supreme Court Justice Alito temporarily stayed the lower-court ruling that MPP must be reinstated
On August 13th, a federal judge ruled that the Biden administration’s reversal of the Trump-era MPP (“Remain in Mexico”) program was unlawful. His ruling required the administration to restart the program within 7 days, and the decision was upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday. The Biden administration then appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay, and late Friday night Justice Alito granted a temporary stay through Tuesday, August 24th to provide the full Supreme Court a chance to consider the case.
The Biden administration proposed asylum rule changes
Last week the Biden administration proposed new rule changes for asylum processing, including authorization for asylum officers to process asylum applications to clear some of the backlog in the immigration courts. Under the proposed change, an asylum seeker who passes their credible fear interview with an asylum officer would have their case go directly to USCIS rather than to court. Those who fail the initial interview with an asylum officer would still be entitled to appeal that decision to an immigration judge. The administration also plans to hire 1,000 more asylum officers and an additional 1,000 support staff, which would more than double the current number of officers.
This proposed rule has been posted to the Federal Register and is open for public comment through October 19, 2021.