It's been almost 2 years since thousands of Afghans were evacuated. Many are still in limbo

Published: Wednesday, August 9, 2023 - 4:25pm

It’s been almost two years to the day since the U.S. evacuated more than 70.000 Afghans from their country after the American troops withdrew and the Taliban took control. Now many of those evacuees are still in limbo and the clock is ticking. 

Bill Richardson is a Marine veteran in Phoenix who helped evacuate more than two dozen members of the Female Tactical Platoon, an all-women, Afghan military unit that worked alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan. 

He says many of them now want to enlist in the U.S. military. But they can’t.

"We've got over 3,000 Special Forces trained and selected Afghan soldiers, and 300 pilots selected by our Air Force and Navy, as well as the Female Tactical Platoon, that are ready to serve and go back to work, but are unable to because they don’t have a green card," he said. "The vast majority still haven’t received their asylum."

Richardson says of the 39 women from the special platoon, only 13 have received asylum so far.

Most evacuees, including the female soldiers, came to the U.S. on humanitarian parole. It’s a special, temporary immigration status that for many is set to expire at the end of this month. Richardson says the women's work permits are set to expire in October. 

"We've been told their parole would be extended out, but to my knowledge nobody has received official notification," he said. "I'm worried that if they don't get new work authorization permits, the women who are working, and they're all working, will lose their jobs."

A bill to create a pathway to citizenship for Afghan evacuees was reintroduced this year, but has failed to move forward so far.

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