The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns joined 58 organizations in a letter to Congress asking for swift passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act, clearing a path to permanent residency for the more than 75,000 Afghans evacuated to the United States during the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.
September 16, 2022
As 111 religious leaders and 59 national, state, and local faith-based organizations across traditions, we urge you to support and pass the Afghan Adjustment Act (S.4787 / H.R.8685) as part of the upcoming FY 2023 Continuing Resolution. This important bipartisan legislation provides a roadmap to permanent status for evacuated Afghans resettled in the United States to ensure they have a chance to apply to become lawful permanent residents, and makes clear that the administration continues to prioritize the relocation to safety the vulnerable Afghan allies left behind.
We are called by our sacred texts and faith principles to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner. Our congregations, synagogues, and mosques have historically played key roles in assisting refugees with housing, language, employment, and social support necessary for rapid and effective resettlement into U.S. communities. Yet, our commitment to offering refuge from violence and persecution requires our elected leaders to demonstrate moral leadership.
Across faith traditions and practices, the message is clear. The Qur'an directs us to “do good to… those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer that you meet” (4:36). In the Jewish and Christian traditions, we are also invited to welcome our neighbor, and do right by them: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34); and live up to our promises: “It is better not to promise anything than to promise something and not do it” (Ecclesiastes 5:5-15). Now, we call upon Congress to stay true to our government’s promises to at-risk Afghans, who have put their faith in us. Not only would the Afghan Adjustment Act realize these values, but it would also strengthen ongoing resettlement and long-term integration efforts.
More than 75,000 at-risk Afghans were welcomed into the United States via “humanitarian parole,” a temporary immigration status typically only granted for 1 or 2 years to provide safety for people under threat. Given the temporary nature of parole, tens of thousands of the relocated Afghan men, women, and children resettled in the U.S. have been navigating complex legal issues to find lasting protections in the U.S. Without the Afghan Adjustment Act, Afghans that the U.S. government relocated face uncertainty and insecurity, including the threat of family separation. As evidenced by the broad support for this bipartisan, bicameral legislation, it is clear Congress agrees that every Afghan family deserves a peaceful and dignified immigration process and a pathway to permanent protection.
The faith community has repeatedly urged Congress to provide lasting protection for our new Afghan neighbors. The only viable solution is through the passage of an Afghan Adjustment Act, as the U.S. has done for other vulnerable people such as Cubans following the rise of Fidel Castro, Southeast Asians following the fall of Saigon, and Iraqis following multiple U.S. military engagements, while we continue to hold the administration accountable for ongoing relocations and processing of vulnerable Afghans to the United States. As faith leaders, we join security experts, refugee resettlement agencies, Afghan Americans, women’s rights leaders, veterans groups, and legal experts in seeking passage of this legislation.
We believe Congress has a moral responsibility to act swiftly. We eagerly look forward to working with you to ensure your support for the Afghan Adjustment Act as part of the upcoming FY23 Continuing Resolution.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Photo: An Afghan family aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), Afghanistan, Aug. 24, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen)