Arlington, Va. – Yesterday the FY 2022 Continuing Resolution (HR5305) was passed into law, which not only prevented a government shutdown but also included $6.3 billion for Afghans at-risk who have been granted entry to the U.S. on humanitarian parole. The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC), as one of nine national refugee resettlement agencies serving these individuals through the Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) program, is grateful for this legislative action, which will enable participants of the APA program to receive the same benefits as other refugees coming through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
The funding for government agencies included in the resolution will allow them to serve Afghan arrivals with essential children and family services as well as medical support. Access to these benefits as well as expedited asylum processing and eligibility for driving licenses, which the legislation provides, is a critically important step towards ensuring our Afghan allies, many of whom left suddenly and with nothing, have a chance at stability as they rebuild their lives in the U.S.
“We are pleased that the federal government has stepped up to fulfill its promise to the Afghans who have supported us,” said Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, ECDC’s President and CEO. “However, there is still more work to be done. We are now calling for Congress to pass an Afghan Adjustment Act to ensure that the pathway to legal permanent residency is clear and expeditious. We must do all we can to make the process smooth and successful for our Afghan allies who have already been through considerable trauma and hardship to reach safety.” Without this legislative fix, processing asylum for all eligible Afghans will overwhelm the system, which is already backlogged and inefficient.
ECDC appreciates the leadership of U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy, Jeff Merkley, and Jeanne Shaheen, and U.S. Representatives Seth Moulton, Don Bacon, and Zoe Lofgren who made the resolution’s passage possible and calls upon them to continue working for additional legislative solutions to better serve our Afghan allies.