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Relief for Afghans in legal limbo could be part of Senate's military funding deal

Lawmakers in Washington have re-introduced a measure that could finally provide a pathway to citizenship for Afghans evacuated from their home country in 2021. It’s been years since the U.S. evacuated more than 70,000 Afghans who worked alongside Americans in roles including interpreters, teachers and soldiers. They came to the U.S on a temporary status called humanitarian parole, and now many are stuck in the ever-growing asylum backlog waiting for their cases to be adjudicated.

Now, a bipartisan group of senators are again trying to change that — this time through a provision proposed in the national security supplemental funding deal. Lawmakers have been in negotiations since last fall about the spending package, which includes funding for military aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

Senators say thousands of Afghans are in  legal limbo in the U.S., and others are still stuck abroad. The new provision is based on the Afghan Adjustment Act, which lawmakers have tried and failed to pass during the last several congressional sessions. The senators say passing the measure now would allow those evacuated allies to apply for legal permanent residency in the U.S. after additional security vetting.

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