One year ago, 22-year-old Ramzia Nasiri was at the Kabul airport for seven days, hoping to get a spot on one of the planes helping Afghan allies evacuate following the sudden fall of Kabul. She was alone, with no family, water or food.

At the airport, 38-year-old Mirwais Muqbil also waited anxiously to leave his homeland. He had been a refugee in the 1990s and was once again being displaced by political instability and conflict.

Nasiri and Muqbil are just two of the more than 70,000 Afghans who fled Afghanistan since August 2021. They are part of the group of men, women and children who not only left behind the hopes for a better Afghanistan after a 20-year war, but also relatives and in many cases daughters, sons and parents.

Now, as their country is in limbo, their status in the United States and the possibility of staying beyond the two years that many got as parolees is uncertain. While the Biden administration designated Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in March, this only offers a short-term solution, as it does not provide a pathway to lawful permanent residency.

Refugee agencies like the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), veteran organizations, immigrant coalitions and hundreds of concerned individuals have come together to advocate for the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would provide the pathway to permanent residency that TPS and humanitarian parole lack. But the pleas have been overlooked.

The U.S. has, rightfully, spent millions of dollars to welcome our Afghan allies, and we, at USCRI, have been able to provide health services to more than 70,000 of them through Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) and resettled more than 10,000, including Nasiri and Muqbil, who risked it all to get to the Kabul airport. But our joint efforts would be pointless if we neglect to find a solution that allows them to stay in this country permanently. The Biden administration did the right thing by evacuating Afghans and assisting them during their resettlement process, and it should go further by ensuring their permanence in the country, now their country, too.


Before the traumatic images of the Kabul airport from July and August 2021 disappear from our collective memory, it is imperative to consider the alternative. Sending people back to Afghanistan in two years because the U.S. government did not provide them with the means to stay is not morally right. This would not be the first time the U.S. government has created a much-needed pathway to lawful permanent residency. It was done in the 1960s with the Cuban Adjustment Act; in 1977 with Public Law 95-145, which amended the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1975 to provide an expedited pathway for adjustment; and in 2000 with the Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act, which gave Indochinese refugees and immigrants the pathway to lawful permanent residency.

If it could be done then, why not now?

The resettlement process should include considerations for long-term integration. The U.S. made many mistakes in Afghanistan, to the detriment of Afghans. Should we even fathom the possibility of sending them back to a place of political, social and economic upheaval? Do we want their dreams and hopes to crumble not once, but twice because of the decisions made by the U.S. government?

But as we wait for the government to act, we are already taking action, facilitating access to legal services across the country in places like Denver, Austin, Dallas, Richmond, Detroit and Atlanta, so our Afghan neighbors can overcome the barriers imposed by our immigration system. This, however, should not excuse Congress and the Biden administration from taking prompt and definitive action.