If you are one of the thousands of Afghans who were separated from their families in the chaos of the Kabul Airport during the Afghan evacuation, the answer is 23 and ½ months, or about two years.
My name is Anna Colby and I serve in our Immigration Legal Services department as an immigration lawyer. I am not a mother yet, but I can picture what our clients are going through. My grandma came as a refugee to the United States and during World War II her family was separated on three different continents. My whole life I have heard about the effect of WWII on our family. My family is grateful for the safety that the United States provided for us, and I knew when the Afghan crisis started that I wanted to help those evacuees find continued safety in the United States.
You may have seen images in August 2021 of the pandemonium at the Kabul Airport as the Afghan government fell, the U.S. military left, and the Taliban took over. Thousands of Afghans who worked alongside the United States, or were associated with Western nations and values, fled for their lives to the airport, terrified that if they did not escape the country the Taliban would find them and kill them. The U.S. was able to evacuate over 76,000 Afghans, but over 100,000 Afghans who worked alongside the U.S. are still in Afghanistan, many in hiding, waiting to be brought to safety. Included in that group are many minor children, separated from one or both parents in the chaos of the airport that day. We’ve heard the story so many times – a parent was holding the hand of one child, and asked a cousin or uncle to hold the hand of the other child. Upon reaching an evacuation plane the parent realized that their other child and relative were not with them, but the parent was ushered onto a plane anyway. In all of these cases the parent told a U.S. service member “Wait! I cannot go, one of my children is not here,” and in each case the parent was told, “Don’t worry – they’ll be on the next flight.”
Here we are, two years later, and so many of these families are waiting on “the next flight” to happen. At World Relief Sacramento our Immigration Legal Services department has 54 cases like this – families that were separated during the evacuation that we are working hard to reunify. So far we have had one successful reunification happen. It is a slow moving process, but every day these children and their families are walking through unthinkable pain being separated for so long. There is something you can do to help though. Congress needs to be reminded that the American public cares about how long this reunification process is taking. Passing the Afghan Adjustment Act would enable these families to be put on a faster track for reunification, and give them the ability to apply to stay in the United States permanently. Please write your representatives and senators to tell them you want them to vote for the passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act. If you click here we have a script ready for you to send to each of your Congresspeople with the click of a button.
Thank you for your support!