This article is not meant to be political. Indeed it’s actually meant to be a call for help.
The situation in Afghanistan is awful, and obviously the manner in which the United States left Afghanistan left a lot to be desired. The Biden Administration’s sudden departure from Afghanistan left thousands of Afghans who partnered with the United States over the last twenty years, including doing work with our military forces, non-governmental organizations, and news outlets, facing imminent risk of violence and even death. There are women and young girls who are indeed more at risk than almost anyone else.
In the wake of this disastrous debacle, on August 29, 2021, President Biden directed the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to lead the federal government’s implementation of Operation Allies Welcome, an effort to help vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked alongside Americans in Afghanistan for all those years, to safely resettle in the United States.
One of the ways which Afghani’s who are outside the United States may come to the United States is through what is called “humanitarian parole” Humanitarian Parole is available to individuals who are outside of the United States and who seek to come to the United States (technically, to be “paroled” into the United States) based on urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons for a temporary period of time. While parole allows for someone to come to the United States lawfully, parole does not give someone a permanent immigration status and indeed does not even provide a path to permanent residency (i.e., a Green Card) or even the ability to obtain lawful immigration status. However, someone in the United States in a parole status may be able to obtain lawful status in the United States (whether permanent or temporary) through other means.
The greater capital region has a surprisingly large Afghani community, seemingly all of whom have been personally impacted by this crisis. Apart from a few well-publicized success stories that we’ve been fortunate to read about in the local news media, many local Afghan families are struggling right now to get hundreds and perhaps even thousands of their relatives out of Afghanistan so that they may hopefully come to the United States. Our phone lines are ringing off the hook. We are working extensively right now with local Afghan families to assist them in getting their relatives out of Afghanistan, safely, and ultimately to the United States.
So what can you do? Once these families get to the United States, there’s still so much more to do. The U.S. Department of State has set up a web page that provides information for individuals and companies in the private sector (including non-profits) on how to “mobilize” a response “to support at-risk and vulnerable individuals from Afghanistan who have arrived in the United States” There are also dozens of other ways to get involved (e.g., Pangea, Centro Legal de la Raza, and the Afghan Diaspora for Equality & Progress, among many others). Contact your local diocese, church, synagogue or mosque. No doubt someone will be coordinating a local assistance effort.
My two cents. The Afghani people did not deserve to end up where they are today; that is, seemingly and suddenly abandoned by the United States after twenty years, even if the political reason for pulling out of the war in Afghanistan had merit. Clearly the Biden Administration did not anticipate that the Taliban would overrun the country so quickly. Just as clearly, the United States did not have a plan in place to support those who supported our troops, NGO’s and news media once it was clear the Taliban was taking over. Our job now, as a nation and a community, is to change that narrative.