Report: US Rejecting Over 90% of Afghans Seeking Asylum From Taliban on 'Humanitarian Grounds'
00:00 GMT 21.06.2022 (Updated: 16:36 GMT 08.12.2022)
Since the Taliban* established control over Afghanistan last summer, the US has evacuated about 124,000 American citizens and other nationals from the country. More than 70,000 Afghans who supported the US during the occupation have been resettled by the American military due to the risk of persecution.
The United States has rejected more than 90% of applicants from Afghanistan who are seeking to enter the country on humanitarian grounds, CBS reported
Citing documents from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the outlet reported that, in total, the US has reportedly received more than 46,000 applications from Afghans since July 2021, and most of them are still pending. Overall, as of the beginning of this month, the US authorities reportedly resolved just 4,246 requests, of which only 297 were accepted.
Because of the rushed and hectic withdrawal last August, not all Afghans who could be qualified for resettlement in the US were evacuated. Many of those who were left behind began applying for parole, which authorizes US officials to admit immigrants without visas into the country for humanitarian reasons.
However, the USCIS practices presumably affect the relatives of those collaborators who managed to get out of the country and received asylum in the US. So, even immediate relatives allegedly cannot get permission to enter the US when applying unless they prove they are at real risk "of severe targeted or individualized harm in the country where the beneficiary is located or is at risk of imminent return to a country where the beneficiary would be harmed," per the report.
Those seeking parole requests were not among the evacuated and resettled by US authorities last year for a variety of reasons, according to the report. Some of the individuals were reportedly unable to enter Kabul's airport in time before the evacuation flights were stopped.
Too Many Applications to Handle
The above-mentioned parole system has been used by the US since the 1950s to resettle groups of refugees in times of crisis, including Cubans fleeing the revolution in 1959 and Vietnamese seeking refuge after the fall of Saigon.
The Biden administration has allegedly made extensive use of parole, invoking it to admit asylum seekers along the US-Mexico border, at-risk Central American children, Haitians and Cubans seeking to reunite with family in the US, Ukrainian refugees, and some thousands of Afghans it evacuated last year.
According to the report, when deciding on parole applications from Afghans who were not evacuated by the US last summer, the US government has used stricter qualifying criteria, causing refugee groups to accuse the government of prejudice.
Afghans will be granted parole in "some limited circumstances," the Department of Homeland Security reportedly stated, citing the cases of immediate family members of US citizens or residents, former Kabul embassy staff, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and immediate relatives of Afghans relocated to the US last year, and others who face "serious, targeted harm."
And one of the reasons most Afghan parole cases go unheard is purportedly because USCIS is only used to dealing with 2,000 applications each year - not tens of thousands, according to the CBS report.
DHS also reportedly stated that 70% of Afghan parole applicants are in Afghanistan, where they are unable to complete needed interviews due to the lack of a US embassy in the nation. Applicants who are considered suitable for parole must travel to other nations to have their cases accepted, according to DHS rules.
Ukrainians Are Welcome Instead
Nevertheless, the Biden administration developed a program called 'Uniting for Ukraine' two months after the launch of the Russian special military operation in the country, allowing US citizens to assist persons displaced by the war to come to stateside.
The Uniting for Ukraine initiative is free, unlike parole cases, which demand a $575 application fee, according to the report.
Unlike most US immigration programs, which take months or even years to process petitions, Ukrainian cases are reportedly processed electronically in weeks or even days. According to USCIS data, cited by the outlet, 37,000 Ukrainians have been granted US travel authorization in less than three months, with 11,000 having arrived.
"This was a US-led evacuation, as opposed to in the Ukrainian context, where these individuals are buying their own plane tickets and organizing their own logistics and their own travel," an undisclosed DHS official told CBS, explaining the difference between Afghan and Ukrainian applications.
The official added that some Afghans are still being processed by the US, including through an expedited refugee process in Qatar. However, the procedure has reportedly benefited just a small number of Afghans, since flights out of Afghanistan are quite rare.
According to DHS data, cited in the report, just 3,700 at-risk Afghans have arrived in the US since March 1.
*The Taliban is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Nations in UNSCR 1267.