Evangelicals to Congress: Grant permanent legal status to Afghan refugees

Around 900 Evangelical leaders signed a letter spearheaded by EIT.

 AFGHAN REFUGEES arrive at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in September. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
AFGHAN REFUGEES arrive at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in September.

Around 900 Evangelical leaders from across the United States, including top pastors, have signed a letter urging Congress to provide permanent legal status to Afghans already resettled in the United States.

The letter was spearheaded by The Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT).

EIT was founded to encourage “biblical thinking” about issues of immigration specifically and to help advocate for public policies consistent with biblical values in general.

“As the United States welcomes many Afghans fleeing from the Taliban, many are coming to the United States under humanitarian parole,” EIT explained on its website. “It is necessary for Congress to act to provide a way for these vulnerable folks to apply for a permanent status. If Congress does not act, these Afghans will find themselves in an unstable, perpetual ‘temporary’ status.”

Since August, more than 70,000 Afghans who were evacuated from Kabul have been granted humanitarian parole in the United States for up to two years. Most of these individuals have been temporarily resettled across the US but will be required to renew their status at significant cost to the country and without the ability to feel that they “fully belong to this country,” the EIT letter said.

“There are already hundreds of thousands of individuals in our country – including the majority of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients who have been diligently renewing this ‘temporary’ status for more than 20 years and many young people brought to the US as children who must regularly renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – who live with the possibility that their authorization to work lawfully could be withdrawn and they could be put at risk of deportation, even though at this point they have been living and working lawfully in the U.S. for years or even decades,” the letter continued. “Provide a path to Lawful Permanent Residence for these long-term TPS recipients, for DACA beneficiaries and other dreamers and for our new Afghan neighbors with parole status, whom our government should not put into a similar situation.”

The letter concluded by saying that it is the best interest of the United States to affirm “what we, as Christians, are eager to convey to these neighbors: that they are welcome here, that they belong and that the United States is now their home, just as it is ours.”

Among the proposals on the table to help the Afghan refugees is pas an Afghan Adjustment Act, which would give these people the opportunity to obtain permanent legal status and the stability that accompanies that comes with it.