• Afghan American Foundation

AAF Meets With Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

Updated: Sep 15

  


(Washington, D.C. 09/03/2021) - On Thursday Sept. 2, the Afghan-American Foundation (“AAF”) facilitated a discussion with Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Afghan-American leaders from over 20 organizations representing the le


gal, non-profit, public health, faith-based and private sectors involved in the response to the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan and resettlement efforts for Afghans in the United States.  Yesterday’s meeting focused specifically on Afghan-American perspectives, seeking feedback on the administration’s efforts thus far and input on the path forward. Our feedback and requests from the Secretary and the administration included the following.  As it relates to immigration:  Robust and vocal support for the Afghan Adjustment Act; The expansion and extension of resettlement benefits for all categories of arrivals, including parolees, SIV holders and refugees; A comprehensive waiver of application and processing fees for those arriving, including current USCIS application fees for those seeking humanitarian parole; Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Afghan nationals in the United States including those here on student visas; Continued focus and exceptional attention on unaccompanied minors, including prioritizing family reunification; and Targeted funding for organizations involved in providing legal and processing support to SIVs/Parolees/Refugees


As it relates to the conditions encountered by those arriving to the United States for resettlement:  Continued focus on improving the safety, security, and sanitary conditions for those awaiting processing and screening at ports of entry;  Ensuring that culturally and linguistically accessible medical and mental health services are available to those arriving;  Continual tracking of processes and workflows to minimize the time and stress involved in transit and processing;  Committing to cutting through bureaucratic and logistical barriers that are preventing community-sourced charitable contributions of supplies from reaching those arriving and in need; and The inclusion of spiritual and pastoral services and resources at ports of entry, transfer points, and holding sites. As it relates to resources and personnel: Encouraging DHS and other agencies working under its leadership to be creative and intentional in granting funds, particularly to state and local resettlement and support efforts, including through the use of UASI grants; Offering FEMA grants for specific resettlement and integration efforts and using FEMA’s temporary hiring authority to retain culturally competent staff with requisite language skills to help with processing and resettlement efforts;


Focusing collaboration and resource allocation on Afghan-American organizations and groups demonstrating a sufficient capacity to perform. The Secretary’s engagement, empathy, responsiveness, and invitation to offer constructive criticism and candid feedback during this meeting and the duration of Operations Allies Welcome were particularly noteworthy and encouraging. AAF continues to value direct, honest, and constructive engagement with Congress, the administration and particularly DHS as it leads the federal government’s resettlement efforts for Afghan evacuees.  Other organizations present at the meeting included: American Immigration Council, Afghan-American Coalition, UCLA Burkle Center, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, MakeSpace, Women’s Refugee Commission, Fresh Start Refugee Assistance Center, Afghan Medical Professionals Assoc. of America, ADAMS Center, Afghans For A Better Tomorrow and the Afghanistan Advocacy Group. To learn more about the work of the Afghan-American Foundation and ways in which you can support it visit www.afghanamericans.org. 



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