WASHINGTON (CNS) — If passed, the bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act introduced in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives would provide newly arrived Afghans with an opportunity to become lawful permanent residents in the United States, said the head of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee.
The bill “would lift the cloud of legal uncertainty currently faced by tens of thousands of Afghans relocated to the United States in recent months and promote their full integration within American communities,” Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington said in an Aug. 10 letter to Congress.
The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration urged members of the Senate and House to pass the legislation “without delay.”
The companion bills, S. 4787 and H.R. 8685, also would require President Joe Biden to establish an Interagency Task Force on Afghan Ally Strategy and increase support for those who assisted the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
“Many of those who would benefit from this legislation served alongside U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan or are the family members of those individuals,” Bishop Dorsonville said. “This service comes at a great personal sacrifice, as they now face the threat of persecution and even death if returned to their native Afghanistan.”
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“Unfortunately,” he continued, “their ability to remain in the United States permanently is severely limited under current law, even after an unprecedented effort to secure their relocation.”
The Afghan Adjustment Act “would address this defect, fulfilling our nation’s promise to these families, demonstrating the United States’ commitment to its allies and reaffirming the importance of humanitarian protection,” the bishop added.
The USCCB, through its Department of Migration and Refugee Services, has assisted over 13,000 Afghans with resettlement since August 2021, together with Catholic Charities agencies and other community-based partners.
“Through this work, the Catholic Church in the United States answers Christ’s call to welcome the stranger and carries out the church’s commitment to protecting the life and dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception to natural death,” Bishop Dorsonville said.
“That work of encounter and accompaniment has only reinforced the need for this legislation,” he said.
Bishop Dorsonville quoted from a March statement issued by the USCCB Administrative Committee: “What must always be in the forefront of our thoughts and actions is the fact that each and every person, including the newcomer, is a brother or sister to us all and a blessing to welcoming communities when given the opportunity to integrate.”