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In AZ and elsewhere, Afghan evacuees still searching for permanent status

Nearly 17,500 Afghans are currently waiting to hear back about applications for various forms of protection in the U.S., according to a CBS  report using unpublished government data.

Those applications include Special Immigrant Visas and asylum — which offer permanent residency in the U.S. And more temporary ones, like humanitarian parole. Nejra Sumic with the advocacy group We Are All America says applying takes time, lawyers and a lot of paperwork — and Afghan communities she works with in Arizona have trouble accessing resources to help.

"People with Special immigrant visas are asked to track documentation that they simply do not have access to like former employers, things they no longer have access to because they had to flee their homes," he said. 

The U.S. evacuated more than 75,000 Afghans last fall after Afghanistan’s capital Kabul fell to the Taliban. Many evacuees don’t have permanent status in the U.S.

A piece of legislation introduced this year would help expand their options, but it’s stalled in Congress.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.Prior to joining KJZZ, she covered border and immigration at Arizona Public Media, where she was awarded a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her coverage of Indigenous-led protests against border wall construction.Reznick started her career working in bilingual newsrooms and as a freelance journalist in Amman, Jordan. Her reporting on migration, refugees and human rights has appeared on PRX’s The World, Al Jazeera and Nova PBS, among others. As a recipient of the International Labour Organization's FAIRWAY Reporting Fellowship, she spent six months reporting on labor migration issues across Arab States.Originally from Flagstaff, she likes climbing, being outdoors and Pluto.