March 31, 2022
Following the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in August 2021, thousands of Afghans fled the country. Many feared for their lives and wellbeing, as they had worked in the government or assisted the United States and other coalition forces. More than 76,000 Afghans have been brought to the United States, passing through a thorough vetting process and living on stateside military bases until being processed into local communities. More are expected in the months ahead. Canada intends to resettle approximately 40,000 Afghans. The new Afghan arrivals face the uncertainty experienced by all refugees and the challenges of beginning their lives anew in a strange land.
In addition to the hardships of resettlement, many of the Afghans who have arrived in the United States face legal and bureaucratic hurdles. Many were admitted under humanitarian parole, which is a less permanent status with fewer support structures. An Afghan Adjustment Act would provide a route to lawful permanent resident status, access to greater assistance, and a path to citizenship. Similar legislation in the past benefited refugees from Cuba, Southeast Asia, and Iraq, following conflicts or humanitarian crises in those lands. Such legislation is not needed in Canada, as the challenges for the Afghans who arrived on humanitarian parole are unique to the United States.
In addition to the Afghans who qualify for admission to the United States and Canada, others who fled the country continue to be in need of protection. They include human rights activists, religious minorities, and female judges.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis has long championed the plight of refugees. We know the heart of the stranger, having been strangers in numerous lands throughout our history. Living our values, many rabbis, congregations, and Jewish communities have welcomed Afghan evacuees, providing friendship, housing, clothing, and other assistance. In many instances, these efforts have been partnerships with other communities of faith and local agencies. HIAS has taken a leading role on behalf of the Jewish community—as has our Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, with its mini-grants offered through the generosity of the Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative for Immigrant and Refugee Justice.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:
- Commends our colleagues, congregations, and organizations that have been involved in resettlement efforts for those fleeing Afghanistan;
- Applauds HIAS for its tireless efforts on behalf of refugees;
- Expresses gratitude to the Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative for Immigrant and Refugee Justice and the leadership of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism for making grants available to Reform congregations that are welcoming Afghan refugees;
- Urges CCAR rabbis and the communities we serve to continue, in increasing numbers, to welcome Afghan families, helping ease their adjustment into their new homes;
- Calls upon the United States Congress to enact an Afghan Adjustment Act to provide a clearer path to permanent legal status in the U.S. for the Afghan evacuees; and
- Calls upon the Biden Administration and the Canadian government to work with the international community to secure safe haven for endangered Afghans who do not currently qualify for resettlement in North America.
 See, for example: CCAR Denounces Inhumane Treatment of Immigrants and Refugees, June 27, 2019, Central Conference of American Rabbis Denounces Inhumane Treatment of Immigrants and Refugees (ccarnet.org); CCAR Resolution on Vietnamese Refugees and Amnesty, Vietnam Refugees and Amnesty – Central Conference of American Rabbis (ccarnet.org); CCAR Resolution on Refugees from Kosovo, 1999, Refugees from Kosovo, Resolution on – Central Conference of American Rabbis (ccarnet.org); CCAR Resolution on Haitian Refugees, 1992, Haitian Refugees – Central Conference of American (ccarnet.org)