Human Rights First Welcomes Announcement of Expansion in Afghan Eligibility for Evacuation
WASHINGTON – With a rise in violence by the Taliban as U.S. troops near their full withdrawal from Afghanistan, Human Rights First welcomed today’s announcement that the State Department will use the “Priority 2” (P2) designation to create a pathway to resettlement for Afghans, who served with U.S. forces during the war, who do not qualify for the Special Immigrant Visa program.
“With this announcement, it’s clear the administration recognizes the importance of resettling all U.S.-affiliated Afghans. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) offers these Afghans a bright future in America. Still, the program is plagued by a lengthy admissions process,” said Jennifer Quigley, Senior Director of Government Affairs at Human Rights First. “With the Taliban making headway in Afghanistan and without a plan for actually evacuating our Afghans allies, they will face the same dangers as those who have applied for the Special Immigrant Visa program. Efforts for evacuation need to be operationalized immediately, resources across agencies need to be increased and the evacuation of these allies must take place as quickly as possible.”
The P2 designation grants access to USRAP for Afghans who work or worked for a U.S. government-funded program and current or former employees of U.S.-based media organizations and non-governmental organizations, who are at risk due to their U.S. affiliation. Unlike other P2 programs, Afghans cannot apply themselves, U.S. government employees and non-governmental employers must refer a qualified individual for the program.
“A P2 program for vulnerable U.S.-affiliated Afghans is absolutely necessary to protect those in danger,” said Chris Purdy, Project Manager of Veterans for American Ideals, a program at Human Rights First. “We’re encouraged that the Biden administration realizes that decisive action needs to be taken to save as many lives as possible. Implementing this program, the government must include as many Afghans who have worked for civil society as possible.”