WASHINGTON (BP) – The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has joined other evangelical Christian organizations on the occasion of the first anniversary of Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban in calling on Congress to enable Afghans evacuated to the United States to seek permanent residency.
The ERLC and other members of the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) asked senators and representatives in an Aug. 10 letter to approve legislation that would permit Afghans living in this country on temporary humanitarian parole to request permanent legal standing. The United States admitted most of those who fled Afghanistan upon the government’s overthrow as parolees rather than refugees, thereby leaving them with “no direct path to pursue permanent residency,” according to the letter.
The Afghan Adjustment Act, which would provide a pathway toward permanent legal status after additional vetting to Afghans admitted under temporary parole, gained introduction in both the Senate and House of Representatives Aug. 9. Senators and representatives from both political parties are original co-sponsors of the Afghan Adjustment Act.
The Taliban regained control of Afghanistan when the capital of Kabul fell Aug. 15, 2021. The Islamic terrorist organization, which ruled the Central Asian country from 1996 to 2001, routed the Afghan military when the United States withdrew its troops after a nearly 20-year mission following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
Particularly vulnerable as targets of the militant Islamic organization during and after its takeover were Afghans who assisted the U.S. effort, Christians, other religious minorities and women.
“I cannot imagine the horror of watching as your society collapses all around you and having to flee for safety with loved ones,” said Brent Leatherwood, the ERLC’s acting president, in written comments for Baptist Press. “Yet that is what so many Afghans faced one year ago.
“Unfortunately, the heartache of that nightmare has been compounded because of our national government’s unwillingness to fully embrace them,” he said. “Many of these individuals bravely served American service members in Afghanistan under the premise we would protect them.
“Because these neighbors of ours would no doubt face persecution or worse back home, we should keep that promise by now offering them full refugee status and giving them the opportunity to pursue flourishing lives here in America.”
More than 79,000 Afghan nationals have arrived in this country as part of the effort to resettle vulnerable citizens of Afghanistan, including those who aided the United States during its mission, the departments of Homeland Security and State reported in mid-June.