One Year Later: Afghans in America Are Still at Risk

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — Today we mark the somber first anniversary of the conclusion of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. During the past year, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC, has worked closely with its affiliates to respond to the needs of Afghans who were evacuated to the United States and who still live in legal limbo as they work to build new lives. Now, CLINIC has released a policy brief outlining next steps for action to provide Afghan evacuees with options for attaining permanent legal immigrations status and the tools to access it.

"We evacuated our Afghan allies a year ago only to drop them into an immigration system that failed to provide many of them with a clear pathway to permanent immigration status," said Karen Sullivan, policy advocate at CLINIC and one of the authors of the brief. “These families are struggling to establish an immigration status that provides them with long-term stability, leaving them feeling unsettled and fearful about their futures and their hopes to reunite with other family members. Congress must act to create a direct pathway to permanent residency for Afghan evacuees. While that legislation is pending, the administration must make immediate adjustments to our existing immigration system to ease the burdens that Afghan families face.”

The new brief is the latest effort by CLINIC to respond to the needs of Afghan evacuees. This year, CLINIC has provided trainings, workshops, and legal support for its affiliate partners who are working directly with Afghan evacuees in their communities. CLINIC also published a comprehensive toolkit for resources on assisting Afghan evacuees.

On this anniversary, CLINIC stands in solidarity and mourning with all those who have lost homes, livelihoods, and loved ones after the U.S. withdrawal, and who now await options for permanent legal status in the United States as they work to build new lives.

To take action on behalf of Afghan evacuees, please see this action alert from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calling for Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act to create legal pathways to permanent residence for evacuees.