The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is currently assessing its options on how to best respond to the protection crisis in Afghanistan, how to support Afghan families and children as they arrive in the United States, and how individuals and organizations can help.
We remain extremely concerned about the incomplete evacuation; many Afghan human rights workers, journalists, women’s rights activists, LGBTQ individuals, and others most at risk were not evacuated and may need to flee the country, seeking asylum in neighboring countries and potentially reaching the United States. We also understand that most Afghans who have been brought into the United States by our government have not yet been provided with refugee status or permanent residence and will eventually require legal assistance in obtaining some form of protection.
Here are three key issues that concern us most right now:
- The U.S. government must ensure that people, families, and children who are fleeing Afghanistan have access to legal information about their rights. We are not yet sure what the federal response will be regarding immigration status and benefits, but it is critical they receive information to help them understand their legal rights and options in this country.
- The United States has an obligation to ensure that anyone who comes here fleeing violence and persecution has a meaningful opportunity to seek legal protection. The U.S. government must fortify our asylum system and provide a clear pathway to permanent protection for those fleeing harm.
- NIJC stands in solidarity with humanitarian agencies around the world who are calling on the Biden administration to ensure a safe exit from Afghanistan for those whose lives remain in danger. NIJC, along with Heartland Alliance, referred hundreds of cases to the U.S. Department of State, including journalists, human rights activists, feminist activists, and relatives of Afghan refugees in the Midwest. Those individuals should be expeditiously admitted to the United States — no one should be left to languish on remote military bases or in third-country processing centers. Those at greatest risk who escape Afghanistan require the same access to relocation to the United States as those who were evacuated.
NIJC anticipates that the U.S. government will eventually develop systems to address the Afghan evacuees and asylum seekers who continue to flee the country. Our team will work with colleagues to provide recommendations to the NIJC community to support this advocacy, and eventually, to provide legal and “know your rights” support. In the meantime, NIJC would like to ask its supporters to remember that our asylum docket is already under-resourced and over-capacity. Volunteers are urgently needed to support the existing asylum caseload.
Thank you for being an ally in the relentless fight for human rights and justice.
Mary Meg McCarthy, NIJC executive director