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Legislation introduced in Congress could give Afghan evacuees a pathway to citizenship

A bipartisan group in Congress has introduced legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for thousands of Afghans evacuated from their country last fall. 

Lawmakers introduced the Afghan Adjustment Act almost a year to the date since the U.S. evacuated over 75,000 Afghans deemed vulnerable after U.S. troops withdrew and the Taliban took control. 

Many evacuees came to the U.S. through what’s called humanitarian parole — a temporary immigration status used in emergency situations. 

Danilo Zak, policy and advocacy manager for the National Immigration Forum, says that creates a legal limbo.

"Afghans were here with of course no way to return to Afghanistan. Many would face imminent danger especially because they worked in support of the U.S. mission for the most part. But they also had no real clear path to stay in the U.S.," he said. 

Zak says if passed, the new legislation would also broaden eligibility for more permanent status’ like the Special Immigrant Visa, a status available to some foreign nationals who worked with the U.S. military and other entities.

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