The Biden administration will not deport citizens of Afghanistan who are illegally living in the United States.
The Washington Examiner reported that the Department of Homeland Security announced on Wednesday the implementation of “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS) for Afghans currently residing in the United States. This program, debuted by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, means that Afghans brought to the United States during last fall’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan are protected from deportation and will be able to secure employment for the next 18 months.
Many of these Afghan citizens were not fully vetted by the federal government prior to their evacuation from Afghanistan.
Mayorkas said, “This TPS designation will help to protect Afghan nationals who have already been living in the United States from returning to unsafe conditions.”
He said, “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.”
DHS officials said that the TPS policy is not necessarily intended for the nearly 80,000 Afghans whom the U.S. evacuated from Kabul last year, but “these individuals may also be eligible for TPS.”
Afghan refugees brought to the U.S. during this time were released into the country’s interior on a “parole basis” that protected them from deportation and enabled them to secure employment for a period of two years.
In a press release, the DHS said that Afghan refugees were targeted for TPS due to the “extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent the country’s nationals from returning in safety.”
Since the Taliban came into power last summer, terror groups like al Qaeda and Islamic State-Khorasan have periodically carried out attacks on civilians.
The department’s press release also indicated that Afghanistan’s unstable economy and poor record on human rights issues justified extending the TPS program to cover Afghan refugees.
It cited “a collapsing public sector, a worsening economy, drought, food and water insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, internal displacement, human rights abuses and repression by the Taliban, destruction of infrastructure, and increasing criminality” as reasons for protecting Afghan refugees from deportation.
However, the department noted that TPS will not be granted to Afghans who arrived in the country after March 15, 2022, and that to qualify for TPS, Afghans must undergo background and security checks.
DHS officials did not say how many Afghan refugees currently in the country are protected from deportation.
Over 300,000 people — from 13 total countries — have been approved for TPS since Congress launched the program in 1990.