The Biden administration is loosening certain terrorism-related exemptions for Afghan evacuees who worked with or on behalf of the US government so they can qualify for immigration benefits, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.
“These actions will also ensure that individuals who have lived under Taliban rule, such as former civil servants, those required to pay service fees to the Taliban to do things like pass through a checkpoint or obtain a passport, and those who fought against the Taliban are not mistakenly barred because of overly broad applications of terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG) in our immigration law,” the department said in a statement.
Immigrant advocates and attorneys have been urging the Biden administration to consider such circumstances for Afghans who helped the US and are seeking humanitarian relief since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
The exemptions will be on a case-by-case basis after going through screening and vetting, DHS said. Previous administrations have also invoked this authority, including in 2019 for applicants linked with Lebanese Forces or Kataeb Militias during the Lebanese Civil War.
“Doctors, teachers, engineers, and other Afghans, including those who bravely and loyally supported U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan at great risk to their safety, should not be denied humanitarian protection and other immigration benefits due to their inescapable proximity to war or their work as civil servants,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
More than 79,000 Afghans have been admitted to the US through Operation Allies Welcome, an effort launched by the Biden administration during the evacuation of Afghanistan.