An Afghan adjustment law is needed to help our allies

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The US immigration system is a mess. This is demonstrated on a large scale by the relentless flow of immigrants to our southern border. On a smaller scale, specific groups, such as the Dreamers, face an uncertain future in America.

We can now add many of our Afghan allies to this unfortunate list.

During the chaotic US exit from Afghanistan, approximately 80,000 people from Afghanistan were evacuated and brought to the United States. Thousands more who had worked with the United States remain in Afghanistan, where they remain at risk.

Many Afghans in the United States are in some form of immigration limbo. Some asked for special immigrant visas, status for people who helped the United States and its interests. There is a large backlog of these applications. Most of the other evacuees were brought here under a process known as humanitarian parole, which offers only temporary protection from deportation and no path to permanent residency. This uncertainty can make it difficult for them to work and build a life in the United States.

Rather than a patchwork of immigration statuses, there is a push for a more uniform system that would grant these Afghans permanent resident status and allow them to work and live in the United States without fear of an uncertain future. .

The Afghan Adjustment Act, while it may need some tweaking, should be a priority for lawmakers when they return for the lame session of Congress.

Military veterans, some of whom served in Afghanistan and some who did not, make a compelling case for passing the law, which would bring certainty to Afghans in America while creating a commission to seek better ways to help those who remain in Afghanistan.

In a recent meeting with the editorial board of the Bangor Daily News, several former military personnel pointed out that the passing of the Afghan Adjustment Law is a matter of national security. If the United States does not protect its Afghan allies, it will be difficult for the United States to find partners in the future, said Brian deLutio, a retired Navy lieutenant commander who lives in Scarborough. “Current and future partners are watching us,” he said.

The United States has passed similar legislation in the past to help allies who were in danger resettle in the United States, such as the law for some who fled Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia decades ago.

John Friberg, who served in the Army Special Forces, including nine years in Afghanistan, worked to bring about 200 people from Afghanistan to Maine. He spoke with anguish about people, including an interpreter with whom he had worked, who were unable to leave Afghanistan before the fall of the government, people who risk being killed by the Taliban or starving to because of the mismanagement of the country by the Taliban.

“With each passing day that the Afghan Adjustment Act is not law, our allies here in Maine are left in limbo, unsure of what will happen to them,” Friberg said in a press release. “In Afghanistan, those who stood up and fought alongside us are hunted down, beaten, imprisoned or killed.”

The law is currently stalled, in part, due to security concerns raised by some senators. Those evacuated from Afghanistan were repeatedly checked on their way to and within the United States. If more control is a concern, the adjustment law provides for it for a group of people who are already in the country.

As Maine veterans have told us, time is running out for many who remain in hiding due to their longstanding ties to the United States. And, offering certainty to Afghans who are already here, so they can build careers and lives in America, makes humanitarian and economic sense. .

That is why Congress should reach agreement on the Afghan Adjustment Act, and do so without delay.

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