Tens of thousands of Afghans who were paroled into the United States after the chaotic military withdrawal in 2021 are now living in limbo without a clear path to stay here permanently. It is morally irresponsible to bring tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans to the United States and then simply abandon them to a broken immigration system. The Afghan Adjustment Act is the right way to see the Operation Allies Welcome mission through. Rather than punishing Afghan arrivals for being evacuated, Congress has an urgent obligation to ensure they have a chance to become lawful permanent residents so they can start putting down roots in their new community and regain a sense of home.
Join Amnesty International USA’s Afghan Adjustment Act Campaign to demand that Congress pass the Afghan Adjustment Act by the end of the year to expand humanitarian pathways out of Afghanistan and establish a roadmap to citizenship for Afghans seeking safety in the United States.
Safety must not have expiration date. Afghans arriving or already arrived in the US need a pathway to real and lasting safety. Congress CAN make this a reality, but they need to hear from us to take appropriate action.
Shahba Shahrukhi is an Afghan woman human rights defender, who was evacuated and admitted to the United States on humanitarian parole on August 24, 2021. She spent one night in Qatar before traveling to the United States. Shahba was forced to leave Afghanistan because of the danger she faced as a women’s rights activist and politician. She is currently at UC Irvine on Risk Scholarship for Afghan women and serves as a Visiting Assistant Project Assistant. However, Shahba risks being forced back to Afghanistan when her humanitarian parole expires in 2023 if the U.S. government does not pass the Afghan Adjustment Act. She told Amnesty International, “I will be forced to go back to Afghanistan and the Taliban will kill me. I don’t want to cause more pain to my family and friends because of my activism. I am safe here.” When the Taliban assumed control school closed for all women, as a result Shahba stopped her education. It wasn’t until after the Taliban were no longer in power that she was able to resume her education. She told Amnesty “I was able to go to school and I went to university and worked on women’s rights in Afghanistan. All of my dreams came true. I got a job, I started a master’s degree, worked in the presidents’ office, and ran for parliament. Everything I dreamed of in childhood, I found.” Shahba faced the end of her dreams again in August 2021. She said, “One day, the Taliban came and then everything is finished” Shahba added, “the Taliban oppress women and do not believe in their rights. It is very important for the US to protect women’s rights activists”.
Soraya, 16, pianist and secondary student: “I play piano at a school and institute for music. All the girls and boys [at my school] were studying together and learning music together. I was very young when I started practicing. Since the Taliban took over, my life turned upside down. When the Taliban came to Kabul, they destroyed our instruments. No one was allowed to go to the institute after that. They turned [the school] into one of their military bases. It broke my heart to see that. I had a piano at home, and I continued to practice. When I heard [the Taliban] were searching houses, I didn’t want to put my family at risk. We sent my piano away to hide it, but on the way, it broke, and I lost it. I loved that piano. When I heard it was broken, I couldn’t move. I thought it was the end of my life, my world. I’m not sure if I will be able to buy a new one – if there are even any instruments to buy any more. There have been a few incidents [with musicians]. The Taliban killed one artist, and there was another [incident] where some boys were playing music at their brother’s wedding. [The Taliban] made them go around the city with the instruments around their neck, and say they were ashamed of what they had done. The Taliban took everything I had, all my dreams and hopes, but this is not the end. I’m getting better now. I’m not practicing piano, but I am studying Dari, mathematics and other subjects. I dream I will go back to school one day. We women of Afghanistan will never surrender. The Taliban needs to know that women and girls will not be silenced. We are not weak. We are not victims. We will raise our voices against discrimination and inequality.”
Read, “Death in Slow Motion: Woman and Girls under Taliban rule” to hear more voices of Afghan women and girls under Taliban repression.
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© Kiana Hayeri / Amnesty International