NEXSTAR (WASHINGTON) — Thousands of Afghan refugees who fled to America as the Taliban took over will have to wait and hope the next Congress takes up their cause.
This week, the Senate refused to consider a bill to help the refugees gain U.S. citizenship.
When American forces rapidly pulled out of Afghanistan in August of last year, more than 75,000 refugees found a safe haven in the U.S. But now they’re waiting.
“Afghans who sought refuge in our country are currently in limbo,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.
That’s because the U.S. government gave the refugees temporary humanitarian parole which expires after 2 years. Klobuchar and a group of bipartisan lawmakers were trying to pass a bill giving the refugees a pathway to permanent legal residency.
“It had some good Republican support, but unfortunately Republican leadership blocked it,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said.
Some Republicans oppose the legislation over safety concerns. They say in the rush to evacuate Afghanistan the refugees’ backgrounds weren’t fully checked.
Sen, Rick Scott says that needs to happen before they’re given permanent status.
“We need to understand who came here and are they good for this country,” Scott said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham argues the legislation does include additional background checks. He insists these refugees deserve American help.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Graham said. “These are the people that interpreted for us, that were there when we needed them during this 20-year war and they have no place to go. If we send them back as a certain death sentence.”
Sen. Jerry Moran says not helping these refugees would hurt the U.S. in the long run.
“Potential allies in future combat zones are going to be less likely to support the US mission, after seeing our Afghan Partners abandoned,” Moran said.
Time may be running out for the refugees, but Graham says the fight isn’t over.
“This will be a top priority next year,” Graham said.
Lawmakers supporting the legislation promise they’ll keep working to give Afghan refugees the right to call America home.