Democratic lawmakers urge DHS to let Afghans stay in US

Democratic lawmakers urge DHS to let Afghans stay in US
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A group of Democratic lawmakers is calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to let some Afghans stay in the U.S. under temporary protected status (TPS), as the Taliban’s grip on Afghanistan continues to tighten amid a deteriorating security situation.

Reps. Joe NeguseJoseph (Joe) NeguseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Biden expresses confidence on climate in renewable energy visit More than 100 Democrats back legislation lowering Medicare eligibility age to 60 MORE (D-Colo.), Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiUS Chamber targets more House Democrats with ads opposing .5T bill Journalist Dave Levinthal discusses 'uptick' in congressional stock trade violations Pandora Papers: 4 takeaways from massive leak of world leaders' finances MORE (D-N.J.), Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinHillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — Americans blame politicians, social media for spread of misinformation: poll Democrats urge federal agencies to address use of cryptocurrencies for ransomware payments Biden signs bill to strengthen K-12 school cybersecurity MORE (D-R.I.) and Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinHouse passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Bleak midterm outlook shadows bitter Democratic battle MORE (D-Mich.), penned a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasSenate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Ending worksite raids is a show; focus should be on employer compliance Border Patrol arrests at highest level ever: report MORE on Thursday urging the department to “initiate an urgent policy process” to establish protected status “for Afghans facing new risks to their lives since the Taliban takeover.”

“This would ensure that no Afghans currently in the US are forced to return to Afghanistan under the Taliban rule,” the lawmakers wrote.

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“It would also facilitate an orderly evacuation by ensuring a clear legal status for those Afghans evacuated under fire and paroled into the United States,” they added.

Specifically, the lawmakers are asking for protection for Afghans paroled into the country and Afghans who are in the U.S. under student and visitor visas.

They noted that as the security situation in Afghanistan continues to decline, thousands of Afghans will be “necessarily paroled” into the U.S., but their final immigration statuses will be determined over a longer time period and their paroles will leave them without work authorization, reliant on assistance and at risk of deportation.

The lawmakers argued that TPS “would give the US government breathing room, allowing these vulnerable Afghans to support their families here in the US, while assuring them we will not deport them back to Taliban-patrolled streets.”

For Afghans in the U.S. on student and visitor visas, the lawmakers contended that TPS would “assure” Afghans that they can safely remain in the U.S. until conditions are secure to return to Afghanistan, while also giving immigration authorities “space” to decide final status for those individuals.

They noted that TPS is meant to be used in situations where conditions in a country, including armed conflict, temporarily prevent nationals from returning to their country safely, contending that Afghanistan is “certainly” eligible for the designation.

“Afghanistan, which is undergoing a hostile takeover by an organization with a well-documented history of violence and terrorist attacks, is clearly eligible for a TPS designation,” they wrote.

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“Once they arrive here, it is crucial that these allies receive legal protection, so they do not fear deportation to a country where their lives are at risk,” the lawmakers added.

The push from the lawmakers comes as the U.S. is working to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies from Afghanistan as the security situation in the country continues to deteriorate amid the Taliban’s takeover.

As of early Thursday the U.S. has evacuated roughly 95,700 people from Afghanistan, according to a White House official.

Those efforts, however, were stymied on Thursday when two suicide bombings occurred outside the airport in Kabul, killing at least 12 American service members, according to the Pentagon.