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DHS report shows thousands of Afghans are still in legal limbo

A new  report from the Department of Homeland Security shows tens of thousands of Afghans evacuated last fall are still in legal limbo. 

More than 75,000 Afghans were evacuated last year as U.S. troops withdrew from the country and its government fell to the Taliban. Many have since resettled in cities in the U.S., including several hundred in Arizona. 

The new report, compiled and presented to Congress in December, shows the immigration statuses of those evacuated. It found nearly 3,300 have been granted Special Immigrant Visas, or SIVs, which are given to people who worked with the U.S. government as interpreters, translators and within other capacities in Afghanistan over the last two decades. 

Nearly 37,000 are in the process of applying for SIVs or expected to begin soon. More than 36,000 others currently have no obvious pathway to residency. 

According to the report, that number includes family members of U.S. citizens and those who are extended family of SIV holders.

They have what’s called humanitarian parole, a process the government can use to allow someone to enter the U.S. quickly on emergency humanitarian grounds. 

But it’s a temporary status that allows recipients to live and work in the U.S. for two years. Human rights and aid organizations say Congressional action is the only way toward permanent protection. 

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.