More than 76,000 Afghan nationals brought to the United States following President Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan may apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to shield them from deportation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Wednesday, despite the fact that a watchdog report last month found some refugees posed serious security risks.
The U.S. military evacuated more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan in August 2021 after the Taliban seized Kabul and toppled the government to establish the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Of the more than 84,000 people eventually brought to the United States, over 76,000 are Afghan nationals who are now eligible to apply for TPS following the DHS announcement.
“This TPS designation will help to protect Afghan nationals who have already been living in the United States from returning to unsafe conditions,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a press release.
The secretary cited “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent the country’s nationals from returning in safety” as reason for giving Afghan nationals TPS.
However, the DHS has faced numerous issues resettling Afghan nationals in the United States.
The Defense Department inspector general reported last month that at least 50 Afghan evacuees posed “potentially significant security concerns,” and 28 of the 31 nationals with known “derogatory information” cannot be located.
DHS admitted last month that it issued employment documents with “incorrect information” to some Afghan nationals in the United States.
Less than a month after the evacuation, the FBI opened an investigation after “a small group of male evacuees” allegedly assaulted a female service member.
Mayorkas said granting TPS to Afghans will help provided needed support to the evacuees.
“Under this designation, TPS will also provide additional protections and assurances to trusted partners and vulnerable Afghans who supported the U.S. military, diplomatic, and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan over the last 20 years,” he said.
Most Afghan nationals who came to the U.S. through Operation Allies Welcome “were paroled into the United States on a case-by-case basis, for humanitarian reasons, for a period of two years and received work authorization,” DHS stated in a press release, adding that those who were paroled may still be able to receive TPS.
The department stated that only those residing in the United States before March 15, 2022 are eligible to apply for TPS. Those who apply must “meet all other requirements, including undergoing security and background checks,” the agency stated.