Momentum continues to grow for the Afghan Adjustment Act, with Senators Moran and Shaheen joining as cosponsors after working with bipartisan group of senators to strengthen vetting language

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced additional support for the Afghan Adjustment Act, their bipartisan legislation to allow Afghans with temporary status in the United States to undergo additional vetting and apply for permanent legal residency, after working with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to make updates to the vetting procedures in the bill. Currently, Afghans who were admitted on temporary status can only apply for permanent legal status through the asylum system or Special Immigrant Visa process (SIV), which both face severe backlogs and long processing times. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will also cosponsor the bill.

The legislation was originally introduced in August by Senators Klobuchar, Graham, Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Peter Meijer (R-MI) lead companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

“Giving our Afghan allies a chance to apply for legal status is the right and necessary thing to do,” said Klobuchar. “The bipartisan updates to our Afghan Adjustment Act that I worked on with Senator Moran and other cosponsors further bolster vetting procedures for newly arrived Afghans. I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this bipartisan legislation and provide Afghans who sought refuge in the U.S. with more legal certainty.” 

“I’m glad to see momentum growing on our bipartisan legislation to deal with the Afghan parolee problem in a manner that enhances our national security and keeps our commitment to those who helped us at their own peril,” said Graham. “This legislation starts us down a road of creating a strong vetting program to protect our national security while allowing for Afghans who risked their lives for America to move forward in the process while determining what to do with other parolees we brought to the U.S. after our hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. Most have no place to go, and it is imperative that we protect our own nation while also not abandoning those who were there for us in the fight. This is a complicated endeavor, and we’re thankful for the input from our colleagues as we move forward.”

“The withdrawal from Kabul resulted in the deaths of American soldiers and stranded thousands of our Afghan allies behind enemy lines,” said Moran. “For two decades countless Afghans stood by our servicemembers and risked their lives and their families’ lives to support our troops in Afghanistan. Veterans of the Afghan War are now calling for Congress to provide safety and certainty for their allies and friends who assisted them in battle. We must answer that call and establish a pathway for our Afghan partners to begin a new life in the United States. This legislation will put a program in place to protect our national security while also keeping our promise to those who risked their lives for America.”

“The U.S. made a promise to our Afghan allies to keep them safe – tens of thousands of whom have now made homes in America. Those who came to the U.S. during the evacuation and relocation deserve the opportunity to apply for permanent status – that’s why the Afghan Adjustment Act is so important,” said Shaheen. “As a leader who’s fought to protect the rights and safety of Afghan women and strengthen the SIV process to protect Afghan allies, I remain committed to ensuring the U.S. upholds its duty to the Afghan people.”

The updates to Afghan Adjustment Act outline specific requirements, including mandatory in-person interviews for all applicants and agency briefings to Congress on proposed vetting procedures prior to implementation. They also mandate that the State Department develop a contingency plan for future emergency evacuations, including standard practices for screening and vetting foreign nationals to be relocated to the U.S.

Modeled after bipartisan bills that Congress has passed in the wake of other humanitarian crises, including the Vietnam War, the Afghan Adjustment Act would: 

  • Allow Afghans on humanitarian status who submit to additional vetting to apply for permanent legal status. For these Afghans, the primary options under current law to gain permanent status are through our asylum system or the burdensome SIV process;
  • Expand the SIV program to include previously omitted groups, including the Female Tactical Teams of Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command, the Afghan Air Force, and the Special Mission Wing of Afghanistan;
  • Establish a task force to develop and implement a strategy for supporting Afghans outside of the United States who are eligible for SIV status and require the Department of State to respond to congressional inquiries about SIV applications.

The legislation has received the endorsement of organizations including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Veterans for American Ideals, With Honor Action, Association of Wartime Allies, Church World Service, National Immigration Forum, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Afghans For a Better Tomorrow, Voice for Refuge Action Fund, Immigrant ARC, Afghan-American Foundation, Human Rights First, and the Advocates for Human Rights.