Shaheen Joins Effort Urging Admin to Address Disparate Treatment of Afghan and Ukrainian Refugees

May 26, 2022

**Shaheen led Senate efforts to bolster the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to protect Afghan allies**  

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, today joined Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) in a letter to the Biden administration raising concerns about the inconsistencies in the treatment of humanitarian parole applicants from Ukraine and Afghanistan.

The letter points out that while applications from Ukrainians are expeditiously processed through a new and cost-free “Uniting for Ukraine” program, applications from Afghans are subject to lengthier and expensive processing and experience significantly higher rates of denial. Additionally, Afghans are required to complete an in-person consular interview and provide proof that they were personally targeted for violence by the Taliban, while Ukrainians do not need to complete an interview at the consulate and only need to prove that they lived in Ukraine at the time of the Russian invasion.

The lawmakers further note that they appreciate the U.S. response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis but would hope that the same welcoming and accommodating approach applied to all those fleeing humanitarian crises, wherever they occur.

“The inconsistent treatment of Afghan and Ukrainian humanitarian parole applications is troubling,” wrote the Senators. “Afghans and Ukrainians have turned to humanitarian parole because other pathways out of their respective countries and to the United States, such as family reunification, are inaccessible or backlogged, and therefore inadequate in the face of immediate danger. We urge USCIS to adopt an approach to Afghan parole applications that mirrors the new treatment of Ukrainian applications, including accelerating the processing of Afghan parole applications, waiving (or refunding) application fees, and not requiring a showing of targeted violence.”

A copy of this letter can be found here.

Senator Shaheen historically partnered with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on efforts to protect Afghans who’ve risked their lives to support U.S. military and diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan by strengthening the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. For years, she has led bipartisan efforts in Congress to reauthorize additional Afghan SIVs. The President signed into law key provisions from the Afghan Allies Protection Act, a bill led by Shaheen and Senator Ernst, as part of spending legislation. Their legislation helps protect the Afghan civilians who risked their lives to support the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Senator Shaheen also supported legislation to establish a nonpartisan, independent commission to examine every aspect of the war in Afghanistan, including the political and strategic decisions that transformed a focused military mission into a vast, nation-building campaign that became the longest war in U.S. history.

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