WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Thursday it was giving temporary legal status to Afghan migrants who have already been living in the country for a little over a year.
The Department of Homeland Security said in the announcement that the decision to give Temporary Protected Status to Afghans who arrived after March 15, 2022, and before Sept. 20, 2023, would affect roughly 14,600 Afghans.
This status doesn’t give affected Afghans a long-term right to stay in the country or a path to citizenship. It’s good until 2025, when it would have to be renewed again. But it does protect them from deportation and give them the ability to work in the country.
A relatively small number of people are affected. On Wednesday the administration announced it was giving Temporary Protected Status to nearly 500,000 Venezuelans in the country.
But many Afghans who would benefit from the new protections took enormous risks in getting to the U.S., often after exhausting all other options to flee the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Supporters have argued that they are deserving of protection.
“Today’s decision is a clear recognition of the ongoing country conditions in Afghanistan, which have continued to deteriorate under Taliban rule,” Eskinder Negash, who heads the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, said in a statement.
Separately, the Department also continued the protected status for a smaller group of Afghans — about 3,100 people. That group already had protection but the administration must regularly renew it.
The news Thursday would not affect tens of thousands of other Afghans who came to the country during the August 2021 American airlift out of Kabul or Afghans who have come over the years on special immigrant visas intended for people who worked closely with the U.S. military or government.