Afghan evacuees in US granted protected status

KABUL (Pajhwok): The US says it is designating Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), shielding from deportation tens of thousands of Afghans.

American media outlets reported on Wednesday the move would protect the Afghans who were brought in without a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) after the frantic US withdrawal in August last year.

The Department of Homeland Security (DPH) announced that it would let the Afghans stay in the United States under a form of humanitarian relief.

Limited to people already in the United States, the relief applies to those who would face threats — if forced to return to their homeland.

Over 76,000 Afghans were evacuated from Afghanistan after the US troops departed the country in August 2021. Most of the evacuees were paroled into the US for a period of two years and received work permits.

According to CNN, the Afghan evacuees may qualify for TPS if they are not granted a legal status before the two-year period runs out.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was quoted as saying: “This TPS designation will help to protect Afghan nationals who have already been living in the United States from returning to unsafe conditions.”

Mayorkas took the ongoing armed conflict, economic crisis, food and water insecurity, and a collapsing public sector in Afghanistan into account in extending relief to Afghans, according to DHS.

Around 74,500 individuals in the United States will become eligible for TPS through the designation of Afghanistan. That includes 72,500 Afghan evacuees who had been paroled into the US and around 2,000 Afghans who were already in the US.

Apart from potential deportation if they are eligible, TPS also allows citizens of designated countries to apply for work permits and gives them the freedom to travel.

Mayorkas said in a statement: “TPS will also provide additional protections and assurances to trusted partners and vulnerable Afghans who supported the US military, diplomatic and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.”

Immigration advocates, meanwhile, hailed the decision as a welcome first step. At the same time, however, they reiterated calls for legislation to grant the Afghans permanent residency in the US.

Lisa Parisio, director of advocacy at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), said: “TPS is critically needed for Afghanistan …

“We also urge a comprehensive response to the crisis in Afghanistan, including passing the Afghan Adjustment Act, and responding to other humanitarian and protection needs in line with the priorities of impacted people.”

PAN Monitor/mud

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