Senators Markey & Warren Want Biden Administration To Address Disparate Treatment of Afghan & Ukrainian Refugees

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In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey, who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat. (stock photo)

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WASHINGTON DC – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) this week led his colleagues in a letter to the Biden administration raising concerns about the stark 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. 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 admire 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.”

Senator Markey was joined in today’s letter by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass).

Read the letter HERE.

In December 2021, Senator Markey, along with Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06), led a group of lawmakers in a bicameral letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) expressing alarm about the restrictive and inconsistent processes USCIS had adopted toward Afghans who had applied for humanitarian parole to the United States.

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