On July 20, 2023, JUUstWA Board members agreed to become signers on a letter to Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, legislation that would follow through on our commitment to Afghan people who support the U.S. during our activity there. Many loyal Afghan people were left behind in the withdrawal in 2021 and those that were brought to the United States did not received the resources and services needed to establish life here in the United States. Draft letter is below.
Dear Members of Congress,
As 108 religious leaders and 61 national, state, and local faith-based organizations representing many faith traditions, we urge you to support and work to immediately pass the bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act of 2023 (S. 2327 / H.R. 4627). If passed, the bill would provide a clear path to permanent status for Afghans living in the U.S. and expand pathways to protection for vulnerable Afghans left behind. On July 13th, the Afghan Adjustment Act was introduced as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We strongly encourage your support of this crucial measure and its inclusion in the NDAA to provide stability and safety to tens of thousands of Afghans, many of whom risked their lives in service of the U.S. mission.
As communities of faith, we are called by our principles and sacred texts to the spiritual practice of welcome. Our congregations have historically played key roles in meeting the needs of displaced people, a tradition that has come to include supporting Afghans who have fled from the violence and persecution of the Taliban. For nearly two years, congregations and organizations have mobilized to connect Afghans with housing, language services, employment, transportation, and social support as they rebuild their lives in the U.S. However, Afghans who have become integral to our communities will continue to face significant obstacles until Congress demonstrates moral leadership by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act.
As we approach two years after the fall of the elected Afghan government in August of 2021, the need for an attainable path to permanent status for Afghans living in the U.S. has never been more urgent. More than 76,000 at-risk Afghans have been welcomed into the United States via “humanitarian parole” which provides only temporary protection and no clear path to permanent residency. Though the vast majority of Afghan parolees are eligible for asylum or Special Immigrant Visas, due to long backlogs and processing delays, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, fewer than 10% have secured permanent protection.
The Afghan Adjustment Act would provide stability and security to the thousands of Afghan evacuees who remain in legal limbo as their initial period of protection is set to expire this fall. The new pathway the bill creates would be cost-effective and secure, and there is significant precedent of Congress coming together to pass similar adjustment acts for others that have been evacuated to the U.S. under humanitarian parole.
As religious leaders, congregations and faith-based organizations, we join with a diverse range of supporters calling for the immediate passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act, including veterans, businesses, national security experts, and women’s rights leaders. Around the nation and across the political spectrum, a broad consensus has emerged: Congress must stand up for displaced Afghans and immediately pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.
Our nation’s diverse faith traditions call us to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner. We believe that it is a moral imperative to act swiftly to protect Afghans at risk. We look forward to working with you to ensure your support for the Afghan Adjustment Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Congregations & Faith-based Organizations