US changes focus to long-term residency for more Afghans

Sep 1, 2022, 2:10 PM | Updated: 2:59 pm
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing at the White House ...

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Biden administration said Thursday that it is phasing out a program that aimed to give at-risk Afghans a quicker pathway to the U.S. through humanitarian relief but was criticized for its bureaucratic barriers and for ultimately leaving people’s lives in legal limbo.

Instead, starting Oct. 1, the U.S. government said it would focus on beefing up efforts to help more Afghans get permanent U.S. residency rather than the temporary legal status of humanitarian parole, which allowed them to stay in the country for just two years.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration is adopting a “new model” for Afghans traveling “directly to the communities where they will be moving” instead of having a stopover elsewhere in the country, which was required to get humanitarian parole.

“This is important to us. This has been a priority. And that’s how we’re going to make the process work a little bit better,” she said.

Since the chaotic evacuation of Afghans following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021, some 86,000 Afghans have arrived in the United States — nearly all through the humanitarian parole process, which has left their future uncertain.

Thousands more remain in Afghanistan and their lives are at risk for aiding American troops. Some have been killed, advocates say.

Others have made their way to neighboring Pakistan but have been stalled by the backlog to process special immigrant visas for Afghans who supported the U.S. government during the war there. Nearly 75,000 such visas are still in the pipeline.

Humanitarian parole was intended originally to be a fast-track way to pull out Afghans who were unable to leave during the evacuation by the U.S. military a year ago. But it has fallen short, advocates said. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services struggled to keep up with the surge in applicants and address the growing backlog.

Since July 2021, the U.S. government has received nearly 50,000 humanitarian parole requests. But the agency has adjudicated fewer than 10,000, denying approximately 95% of them.

“Far too many of our allies remain in harm’s way, and far too many families remain separated by bureaucratic hurdles,” Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, the head of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a refugee resettlement agency, said in a statement.

Jean-Pierre said the government is working on making things faster so Afghans left behind can get out soon.

“We know that many of our allies and Afghans remain under threat in the country,” she said.

Under the new model, dubbed “Operation Enduring Welcome,” Afghans must have immediate family members in the U.S. or have worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan or be identified as being among the most vulnerable applicants to the U.S. refugee program.

The administration said providing more Afghans with permanent residency will make it easier for them to restart their lives in the United States and participate in their new communities.

__

Associated Press writer Chris Megerian in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Darrell Brooks sits in another court room after being removed from the first day of his trial for c...
Associated Press

Man charged in parade killings removes shirt before openings

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin man defending himself against homicide charges for allegedly plowing his SUV through a Christmas parade stripped off his shirt, sat with his back to the camera and stuck a sign he’d been given to signal objections down his pants Thursday before opening statements began in his trial. Prosecutors allege […]
11 hours ago
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya raises his hand against a U.N. Security Co...
Associated Press

Russia seeks secret UN vote on condemning Ukraine annexation

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia called for a secret ballot vote next week on a Western-backed resolution that would condemn its “attempted illegal annexation” of part of four Ukrainian regions and demand that Moscow immediately reverse its actions. Russia apparently hopes it would get more support from the 193 nations in the General Assembly if […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Fed’s Cook says more rate hikes needed to combat inflation

WASHINGTON (AP) — More interest rate increases will be necessary to wrestle inflation under control, Federal Reserve Governor Lisa Cook said Thursday, echoing several tough speeches by other central bank officials this week. Cook said she has revised her views on inflation in the past several months and now sees it as more persistent. And […]
11 hours ago
A medical attendant disinfects the rubber boots of a medical officer before leaving the Ebola isola...
Associated Press

US to begin screening travelers coming from Uganda for Ebola

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will begin screening travelers coming from Uganda for Ebola as an additional precaution aimed at trying to prevent an outbreak in the African country from spreading, the Biden administration said Thursday. With “no suspected, probable, or confirmed cases” of Ebola having been reported beyond Uganda, the risk in the […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Oklahoma authorities fatally shoot man threatening officers

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is trying to determine if a man who appeared to be threatening officers with a gun was actually armed when they fatally shot him this week, a spokesperson said Thursday. Two Claremore police officers and and a Rogers County deputy shot Bobby Joe Johnston, 40, […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Family and supporters of Tyre Sampson march and hold signs outside the Orlando Free Fall dro...
Associated Press

Florida drop tower will be taken down after teen’s death

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A towering amusement ride in central Florida’s tourism district where a Missouri teen fell to his death will be taken down because of the accident, the owner said Thursday. The decision to remove the more than 400-foot (122-meter) ride which opened last December in Orlando’s International Drive district was directly linked […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
US changes focus to long-term residency for more Afghans