Safety for Our At-Risk Neighbors in Afghanistan

Send a clear message to the White House & Congress: We Must Protect Our Afghan Neighbors!

As the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, Afghan nationals who cooperated with the U.S. military, independent journalists, activists, local nongovernmental organization staff, and other vulnerable people may be at risk. With a complete U.S. withdrawal expected by the end of the month and a rapidly deteriorating security situation, the White House and Congress must guarantee a place for all Afghan nationals seeking protection from persecution and those fleeing threats to their lives because of their work with the U.S. government.

Afghan interpreters, embassy workers and other U.S. government personnel and their families who assisted the U.S. presence in Afghanistan face an ongoing risk. One of the pathways for safety for Afghan nationals and their families who worked for U.S. forces is the Afghan Special Immigration Visa (SIV) program. The long-standing U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) through which the United States helps resettle thousands of refugees from across the world in American cities, is another. Starting on Aug. 2, Afghan nationals who don't meet the eligibility for the SIV program may be referred for resettlement through USRAP with a Priority 2-Designation. Afghans may also be eligible for resettlement to USRAP with Priority 1-Designation. Once in the U.S. or at a port of entry, Afghans outside of these programs, such as those paroled in, can also apply for protection by claiming asylum. Hundreds of international organizations have called on the U.S. government to scale up their humanitarian response by expanding and improving these pathways for protection, which may look like expediting all levels of processing.

Time is of the essence with a U.S. departure expected by August 31. The U.S. government has continued to evacuate Afghan Allies as efficiently and safely as possible in the evolving situation, ramping up the evacuations of thousands of U.S. personnel and their families, SIV applicants and other vulnerable people, including those who have passed initial security screenings.

Once evacuated, Afghan nationals entering the U.S. without a formal visa may enter on humanitarian parole, a special authorization granting permission to stay in the U.S. while individuals adjust their status. Thousands of SIV applicants, women leaders, activists, human rights defenders, among others have been paroled into the U.S., usually arriving to U.S. military bases to await processing. Afterwards they are referred to a local resettlement agency.

Across the U.S., places of worship and faith-based organizations are important partners in assisting refugees, asylum seekers, and others in need of hospitality at this crucial hour. People of faith are uniquely poised to advocate for a welcome that lives up to the biblical call to love our neighbor.

The Biden administration should provide urgent humanitarian protections, including an immediate evacuation to U.S. soil, of those who have assisted the United States in Afghanistan and all others who may be at special risk. The U.S. government should seek to bring Afghans to U.S. territories, like Guam, to begin rigorous vetting before prompt relocation to the U.S. mainland, while expanding and scaling up overall resettlement capacity. Congress can make a difference by working with the administration to pass legislation strengthening access to resettlement services, while anticipating future global resettlement needs by funding and meeting next year’s refugee admission goal. To help provide safety for our neighbors in Afghanistan during this critical time, the ELCA calls for diplomatic solutions that observe human rights and respect for all human life.

Volunteer to Support Incoming Afghan Nationals Through LIRS and Your Local Resettlement Office

LIRS is calling for volunteers to support incoming Afghan nationals who are being evacuated to the United States to various cities. Volunteers are needed to assist in a coordinated response to provide such services as travel, housing, and meals. Sign up for your area here.

Reach out to your closest local refugee resettlement office. Click here for an interactive map to help you find your closest resettlement office. Click here for a state-by-state directory with contact information for each office.

ELCA Foundation for Action

The ELCA's commitment to peace is based on the belief that all humans are created in the image of God, deserving of fulfillment, safety and love. At a time like this, the church is called to be serving presence in society, advocating for generosity and a compassionate welcome for all those in need of a new home. The Church serves when it holds power accountable, advocates justice, stands with those who are poor and vulnerable, provides sanctuary, and meets human need” (ELCA social statement "For Peace in God’s World," 1995). That statement also affirms the ELCA's long-standing practice of welcome and hospitality for refugees. This tradition also includes Lutheran congregations' sponsorship of refugees following periods of conflict.

Send a customized letter through the ELCA Action Center today.


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