The Biden administration announced Wednesday new immigration protections for individuals from Afghanistan, including the 76,000 Afghan refugees who have come to the United States since last summer’s chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Department of Homeland Security will grant temporary protected status to certain Afghans for 18 months. To qualify, individuals must have lived in the United States since March 15.
“This TPS designation will help to protect Afghan nationals who have already been living in the United States from returning to unsafe conditions,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “Under this designation, TPS will also provide additional protections and assurances to trusted partners and vulnerable Afghans who supported the U.S. military, diplomatic, and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.”
Some lawmakers and immigration advocates have been lobbying the administration to grant Afghans the protected status for months. Many of the Afghans who came following the U.S. pullout of Afghanistan came on humanitarian parole, which only offers temporary protection and work authorization for up to two years.
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Although TPS will offer protection from deportation, it does not offer a pathway to citizenship. Some lawmakers and refugee advocates have been pushing for passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for Afghans.
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said she welcomes the Biden administration’s decision to grant TPS to Afghans. But she said more needs to be done to provide a permanent pathway to citizenship.
“While TPS for Afghanistan is an important protection tool, it does not address the legal limbo faced by tens of thousands of Afghans evacuated to the U.S. on humanitarian parole,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “Our nation’s moral obligation to our Afghan allies and friends demands the stability that only a pathway to permanent residence can provide.”
Earlier this month, DHS designated TPS for Ukraine as continues to attack that country.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is designated by DHS to certain foreigners whose home countries may be experiencing an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster or other extraordinary conditions that would prevent citizens from returning safely to their home, according to DHS.
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_