Lawmakers, advocates support legislation to keep Afghan refugees in CT

Push to keep Afghan refugees in Connecticut
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 5:47 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - This week marks one year since U.S. troops pulled out of Afghanistan.

Since then, thousands of refugees fled the Taliban, starting a new life in the United States.

Now there is a push to make sure they can stay here.

About 1,000 Afghan refugees resettled in Connecticut over the last year after fleeing the Taliban.

Many of them are helped by the people with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services in New Haven.

Their legal status is only temporary, meaning right now, they would only be able to stay in the U.S. for a few years.

“We don’t know what will happen with our future, will we be sent back to Afghanistan or will we be here?” said Marwa.

For Marwa and other Afghan refugees who’ve resettled in Connecticut, this past year of worrying about their home land and the loved ones left behind has been painful.

“My siblings, my mother and father and my sister whose husband was working with the American people. They’re still in Afghanistan and their lives are still in danger,” Marwa said.

An English teacher in Afghanistan, she was able to flee as U.S. troops moved out and the Taliban took over. But her husband and family are still there.

She’s part of the roughly 80,000 Afghan refugees and asylum seekers who resettled in the U.S. in the last year.

But their humanitarian legal status is only temporary.

It’s why Senator Richard Blumenthal, along with a group of Democrat and Republican senators are sponsoring a bill that would allow those currently here to stay.

“The Afghan Adjustment Act will give them a path to permanent legal status, in other words green cards, so they can live here in a safe haven, from that persecution which includes torture, imprisonment, and death,” said Blumenthal.

Advocates say the bill would give refugees not only a certainty, but also safety, adding a gathering like this in Afghanistan simply wouldn’t be possible with the Taliban in charge.

“They would push through the journalists, smash your cameras, fire in the air and arrest these women if we were doing this in Kabul now,” said Chris George with Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services.

“This is the chance that we have never had. They need to know that they are accepted, and safe in the U.S. That they can start living and building their lives,” said Hosna, an Afghan refugee.

For Marwa, she thinks about her family all the time, wondering when they’ll be back in her life.

“They are hiding every day, they cannot live like a human, they don’t have rights,” she said.

Hoping she can stay here and that one day they’ll be able to join her.

“I raise my voice for my family, for every Afghan sister and brother. If we don’t raise up our voice, who will?” Marwa said.

Advocates say adjustment acts are not new.

The U.S. did something similar for refugees and asylum seekers following the Vietnam War, as well as the conflict in Iraq.