By Alexandra Weber, Chief Advancement Officer and Senior Vice President
Two years ago, on Sunday, August 15, 2021, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. More than 76,000 Afghans were evacuated to the U.S. Families arrived exhausted, fearful, and unsure of what would come next, and resettlement agencies across the country rushed to respond. Thanks to an incredible outpouring of support from our donors, community partners, and volunteers, IINE welcomed and resettled more than 500 Afghan evacuees in Massachusetts and New Hampshire within five months.
Now, two years later, what does life look like for Afghans in the U.S.? Devastatingly, it is still full of unknowns.
Humanitarian Parolee Status – An Impermanent Solution to a Lasting Problem
Afghan evacuees came to the U.S. as humanitarian parolees and were granted legal permission to stay for two years. Recently, the U.S. government offered Afghan families an extension of parole for another 12 months—which, in effect, extends their limbo. Afghan evacuees, most of whom traded their safety to support our country, need more than short-sighted and temporary permission to stay in the U.S. Having worked with the U.S. as allies, returning to an Afghanistan still ruled by the Taliban is not an option.
Join IINE in advocating for the Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA). The bipartisan bill, recently reintroduced to Congress, would allow Afghans to apply for green cards and set them on a pathway to becoming permanent citizens. The AAA would enable those who came alone to bring their families to the U.S.; many Afghan evacuees were separated from their families in the chaos of being airlifted from Kabul, and their families remain in Afghanistan, in danger every day. Passing the AAA will mean that thousands of Afghans will be able to reunite with their families, and together, remain safely in the U.S. – a country they have come to call home.
A New Community, A New Home
Despite living in limbo, over the past two years Afghans have put down roots in New England. IINE has helped Afghan families in Manchester, New Hampshire gather weekly to cook together, socialize, practice English, and play games. They attend workshops on topics ranging from dental hygiene to child car safety, learning the cultural customs and norms of their new country. In Lowell, Massachusetts, Afghan women gather weekly for an IINE-led sewing class. A few participants have gone on to start their own sewing business; they are excited to be supporting their families and contributing financially in a way they never have before.
There are many more stories like these. Afghans have created community here. New England is now home.
Lend Your Voice in Support
Because of generous support from people like you, IINE has welcomed and supported 554 Afghans since August 2021. You can advocate for their permanent residency in the U.S. by contacting your congressional representative today and asking them to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act (S.2327 and H.R. 4627).