Posted on August 25, 2021

U.S. Tells Refugee Aid Groups to Get Ready for 50,000 Afghans

Sophia Cai, Bloomberg, August 24, 2021

The Biden administration has asked refugee aid organizations to prepare to receive and resettle as many as 50,000 Afghans evacuated under a stopgap program as the U.S. accelerates flights out of Kabul ahead of an end-of-August deadline, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

The program, known as humanitarian parole, would target Afghans likely to be at risk under a Taliban-led government and who haven’t already requested, or wouldn’t qualify for, the Special Immigrant Visa program used to evacuate people who aided American military forces or diplomats. People who might qualify for humanitarian parole include women leaders, journalists and others from high-risk groups.

Humanitarian parole is a rarely used discretionary authority that gives people in urgent situations one year in the U.S. to complete their application for more formal programs like asylum, refugee and SIV status.


The effort signals the scale of the rushed effort to get at-risk Afghans out of their country before the Taliban further consolidate power. The U.S. said Tuesday that 21,600 people were evacuated in the previous 24 hours as military cargo planes depart Kabul’s airport every 45 minutes. Those Afghans are sent to other countries for vetting before traveling to the U.S. or other nations.


Because individuals arriving under humanitarian parole don’t have work authorization or access to the same social benefits that refugees and those with special immigrant visas do, the State Department plans to issue a stand-alone funding opportunity through which aid agencies can apply for funding to serve this population, according to the people familiar with the plan.

Some Democrats signaled that they don’t think 50,000 is enough.

“I believe the administration needs to move as quickly as possible and as expansively as possible, ensuring that we are raising the amount of refugee visas to whatever amount necessary,” New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Monday. “I would say rock bottom, 200,000.”