Almost half of U.S. senators joined together on Tuesday in calling for the creation of a “humanitarian parole category” for citizens of Afghanistan who could face violence as the Taliban move to take control of the country.
The 46 senators, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas “urging the Biden administration to take swift, robust action to protect and support Afghan women leaders facing unparalleled danger following the Taliban’s violent sweep across Afghanistan and seizure of Kabul… the senators called on the Administration to create a humanitarian parole category specifically for women leaders, activists, human rights defenders, parliamentarians, journalists, and members of the Female Tactical Platoon of the Afghan Special Security Forces, and to streamline the paperwork process to facilitate referrals to allow for fast, humane, and efficient relocation to the United States.”
They add in the letter that “We and our staff are receiving regular reports regarding the targeting, threatening, kidnapping, torturing, and assassinations of women for their work defending and promoting democracy, equality, higher education, and human rights. While we welcomed the expansion of the eligibility requirements” for visa and refugee programs, “we must also protect those women who might fall through the cracks of the U.S. Government’s response. We greatly appreciate your efforts to help save the lives of Afghans who have advanced U.S. and Afghan joint interests over the last generation, standing for peace, democracy, and equality. We are all in agreement that we owe them our unqualified support.”
The senators also call on the Biden administration to improve the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ processing capacity and to name an interagency refugee coordinator immediately.
“Particularly for women who are currently targets—even hunted by Taliban fighters who are going house-to-house with their names—the path to protection and safety under the Priority 2 designation is not accessible,” the senators write. “While we understand there is little processing capacity at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, for these women to access a third country for processing is almost or completely impossible with all borders crossings now closed or controlled by the Taliban.”
The letter was signed by most Democrats and several Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not join their colleagues in signing the letter.
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