Bill Summary: The Afghan Adjustment Act of 2023

The Act Adjustment Afghan (AAA), S.2327/H.R.4627, is a bipartisan bill that establishes an authorization for appropriations to ensure that eligible Afghan evacuees who were evacuated to the U.S. Following the fall of Kabul in August 2021 have received rigorous screening and vetting, while providing pathways to protection for those at risk and left behind outside the United States. The legislation expands on earlier iterations of the Act Adjustment Afghan, and it also expands provisions and reporting on to ensure a permanent path to status for tens of thousands of Afghan evacuees.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) collaborated with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) on July 13, 2023, to introduce the bill in the Senate.

On the same day, Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) introduced an indistinguishable bill in the House. Original House cosponsors of the Afghan Adjustment Act include Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Juan Ciscomani (R-Arizona), Jason Crow (D-Colorado), Brian K. Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania), Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), Maria Salazar (R-Florida), Zoe Lofgren (D-California), David Schweikert (R-Arizona), Greg Stanton (D-Arizona), Michael Lawler (R-New York), Scott Peters (D-California), Jay Obernolte (R-California), Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts), John Curtis (R-Utah), Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia), Zachary Nunn (R-Iowa), Mikie Sherrill (D-New Jersey), Blake Moore (R-Utah), Ami Bera (D-California), Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-Puerto Rico), Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), Nancy Mace (R-South Carolina), and Jeff Jackson (D-North Carolina).

Background

Throughout the nation, the displaced individuals were relocated to neighborhoods and initially transported to military installations for further health examination and handling. Over 76,000 of the displaced individuals were brought into the United States during the autumn of 2021. The displaced individuals were initially transported by air to other nations for thorough examination and screening. Through Operation Allies Welcome, more than 85,000 susceptible Afghans were evacuated following the withdrawal of U.S. Troops and the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.

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In the United States, individuals on parole are compelled to reside in a state of legal uncertainty, unsure about their choices or what lies ahead. Conversely, parole grants only limited and temporary advantages and, unlike refugees and SIVs, does not provide a clearly defined route to permanent status. Rather, the majority of the 70,000 individuals (accounting for over 94% of the total) who have been resettled in the U.S. Thus far have undergone the process of humanitarian parole. However, due to the sluggish and overloaded nature of these procedures, they were not effective in the context of an emergency evacuation. Consequently, most of these evacuees would have likely been eligible for either refugee or Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) status.

Congress has repeatedly used humanitarian parole in previous cases, including after the Vietnam War, to provide a lawful path to permanent residence for evacuees, emergency evacuations, and previous troop withdrawals.

The lack of coordination among various involved agencies has hindered efforts to protect and evacuate backlogged refugee and SIV programs, but they continue their ongoing mission to work with and for the U.S., Particularly at the risk of many vulnerable Afghans who have been left behind in neighboring countries or Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghans, including many other vulnerable individuals, were evacuated through Operation Welcome Allies.

The Afghan evacuees, most of them, finally need the Afghan Adjustment Act to end this prolonged uncertainty. However, this process only grants temporary protection and does not provide a permanent pathway to status. Recently, the Biden administration authorized re-parole for Afghan evacuees on a case-by-case basis. The parole term, which is set to expire in 2023 for many Afghan evacuees, is two years.

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To tackle these concerns, the Afghan Adaptation Act would:

1. Offer a pathway to enduring status for evacuees from Afghanistan.

  • Prior to implementation, individuals eligible for the route to becoming lawful permanent residents (LPR) in Afghanistan would consist of Afghan citizens — or for those who previously lived in Afghanistan and are currently in the United States — who were either examined or granted entry into the U.S.
  • Were released into the United States between July 30, 2021 and implementation, or.
  • Similar to the assistance offered by SIVs, the U.S. Mission in Afghanistan has received direct and individual support from individuals who came to the U.S. After the law was passed and have been identified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and DOD.
  • Their application for adjustment of status has been approved, and the date on which other applicants’ admission date is determined, the applicants who were paroled or admitted and inspected in the U.S. Have their admission record backdated to that date, as per the approval of the Mission Chief prioritizing SIV applicants.
  • Establishes a timeframe for submission that is the more recent of: two years following the release of the conclusive instructions implementing the legislation or.
  • Two years after a candidate becomes eligible to submit an application.
  • Permits exceptions to the deadline under extraordinary circumstances.Output: Allows for deviations from the due date in exceptional situations.
  • Bars qualified candidates who do not apply for modification from renewing parole.
  • 2. Implement strict screening criteria and grounds for criminal ineligibility for individuals applying for permanent residency.

  • The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Defense (DOD), to establish additional vetting procedures for applicants entering the U.S. As refugees that would be equivalent to the existing requirements placed upon the admissions process for refugees.
  • This condition fails to fulfill the need for face-to-face interviews at the point of entry, with the specification that face-to-face interviews will be included in the screening criteria.
  • The Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with the Department of Defense, will maintain a screening database that includes information on applicants who do not receive preferential treatment.
  • DHS would be required to provide guidance for implementation within three months of enactment and final guidance in one year after enactment.
  • After 90 days, the applicants are vetted according to plans established by Congress, consulting with the DOD and DHS for reporting requirements. The DHS is required to brief Congress on security threats and vetting within one year of the application deadline. Congressional committees or members of Congress are allowed to request information on the reasons for application denials.
  • The bill would earmark $20,000,000 to the Department of Homeland Security each year from 2023 to 2027 to execute this measure for altering immigration status.
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    3. Enhance and enhance ongoing initiatives to safeguard Afghans remaining.

  • Certain senior officials from the former Ministries of Interior and Defense in Afghanistan, as well as individuals associated with the former Afghan Ministry, military counterintelligence, and Afghan police and military intelligence activities, along with any female member of any other entity within the National Defense and Security Forces of Afghanistan, and members of the Special Mission Wing and Special Operations Command of the Afghan National Army and Air Force, would be eligible to expand the eligibility for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for the Special Forces members of the National Defense and Security Forces of Afghanistan.
  • The bill would require the establishment of an interagency taskforce to coordinate efforts in supporting Afghan nationals outside of the United States who would be eligible for refugee or SIV status.
  • The legislation would additionally mandate the interagency taskforce to formulate a backup strategy for forthcoming emergency evacuations.
  • Conclusion

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