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Relief for Afghans in legal limbo could be part of Senate's military funding deal

By Alisa Reznick
Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2024 - 4:18pm

Alisa Reznick/KJZZ
A, a solider from the Afghan Female Tactical Platoon, holds a mug commemorating soldiers from the FTP and the Cultural Support Team, or CST — a mostly-women unit in the U.S. military that worked with the FTPs.

Lawmakers in Washington have re-introduced a measure that could finally provide a pathway to citizenship for Afghans evacuated from their home country in 2021. It’s been years since the U.S. evacuated more than 70,000 Afghans who worked alongside Americans in roles including interpreters, teachers and soldiers. They came to the U.S on a temporary status called humanitarian parole, and now many are stuck in the ever-growing asylum backlog waiting for their cases to be adjudicated.

Now, a bipartisan group of senators are again trying to change that — this time through a provision proposed in the national security supplemental funding deal. Lawmakers have been in negotiations since last fall about the spending package, which includes funding for military aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

Senators say thousands of Afghans are in legal limbo in the U.S., and others are still stuck abroad. The new provision is based on the Afghan Adjustment Act, which lawmakers have tried and failed to pass during the last several congressional sessions. The senators say passing the measure now would allow those evacuated allies to apply for legal permanent residency in the U.S. after additional security vetting.

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