Sep 21, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden admin offers thousands of Afghan refugees temporary protections

U.S. military police walking past Afghan refugees at an Army base in Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin, in September 2021.

U.S. military police walking past Afghan refugees at an Army base in Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin, in September 2021. Photo: Barbara Davidson/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday extended deportation protections for Afghan refugees who fled their homes after the U.S. fully withdrew its forces from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Why it matters: Because of the extensions, thousands of refugees without proper documentation will not have to face the prospect of returning to Afghanistan and live under the Taliban's draconian government for another 18 months.

  • Many of them will also be allowed to keep their work permits.

Of note: In addition to extending the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for around 3,100 people, the DHS also expanded who is eligible for the status to around 14,600 additional Afghan nationals.

  • It said the extension and expansion was necessary because of ongoing conflict in the country, as well as food and water insecurity, a lack of health care, destroyed infrastructure and economic instability.

What they're saying: "Today's announcement to extend and redesignate TPS for Afghanistan allows us to continue to offer safety and protection to Afghan nationals who are unable to return to their country," said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.

  • "DHS will continue to support Afghan nationals through this temporary form of humanitarian relief."

The big picture: The Biden administration and DHS on Wednesday also extended TPS to nearly a half-million Venezuelan nationals because of ongoing humanitarian, security, political and environmental concerns in the country.

Go deeper: Mexican families cross U.S. border in unprecedented numbers

Go deeper