Alarm over Biden Admin mishandling of Afghan refugee applications

The East Bay Jewish Family and Community Service organization is up in arms about the way that the administration is effectively abandoning many Afghans who deserve to get out of that country, It issued a press release on December 7, containing these excerpts:

This week, the U.S. government began denying humanitarian parole applications and dashing the hopes of thousands of Afghans awaiting rescue. After months of inaction on these urgent petitions, this week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began denying them and extinguishing any chance of rescue.

In just four months, JFCS East Bay has resettled almost 300 Afghan evacuees and anticipates welcoming many more. Our Immigration Legal Services team has assisted in the filing of nearly 100 humanitarian parole applications and covered thousands of dollars in USCIS filing fees since August.

The wave of denial letters received by immigration advocates across the U.S. this week articulate—for the first time—a set of stringent new criteria that will exclude the vast majority of Afghan humanitarian parole applicants from eligibility. (For definition of “parole,” go here.)

Among other things, USCIS rejection letters are asking applicants to provide “documentation from a credible third-party source specifically naming the beneficiary and outlining the serious harm they face and the imminence of the harm in the location where the beneficiary is located.”

USCIS reports that it has received more than 30,000 such applications. At $575 per person, USCIS has likely taken in about $17,250,000 in application fees from these filings, making this process look like a classic “bait and switch” scam.

“Not only has USCIS created a very high evidentiary standard, it’s announcing these new stringent criteria after the fact, and applying them retroactively to pending applications,” says JFCS East Bay Director of Immigration Legal Services, Kyra S. Lilien. “We have clients who have been waiting for an answer for months. While they wait, their family members have been kidnapped by the Taliban. Afghans are in hiding, freezing, without enough food, while being hunted by the Taliban. Turning the tables on them now is fundamentally unfair.”

Yahoo estimates the current volumes of cases. The problem above deals with Afghans still in Afghanistan: Those already been from Afghanistan and brought to the U.S.: nearly 5,000  American citizens. More than 3,000 are green card holders. 75,000 Afghans of which more than 2-in-5 are eligible for SIVs due to their or their family member’s aid to the U.S. government in Afghanistan. Others are family members of U.S. citizens and green card holders, journalists, human rights activists or other at-risk humanitarian workers. Roughly 35,000 evacuees are waiting at military bases in the U.S., while another 36,000 are home in the states or resettling into new U.S. communities.

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