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“We Have a Moral Responsibility to Act and Act Swiftly” Leading Voices Call on Biden Administration to Escalate Evacuations of Afghans

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Concerned Americans across the nation are joined by leading advocates and observers and are calling on the United States to honor its commitment to the safety of Afghan allies who are in harm’s way with the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Here is a cross section of some of the advocates and others who have lifted their voices in recent days in support of safety for Afghans:

  • Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: “Thus far we have yet to hear a real robust operational plan and that underscores the need for bold and decisive action to bring them to Guam or other U.S. territories. The clock is up to outsource this moral obligation to other countries.”
  • Jennifer Quigley, Senior Director for Government Affairs, Human Rights First: “Unless there is a swift and meaningful effort to evacuate the thousands of allies and their families to the United States or a U.S. territory, we will have broken our promise to leave no one behind.”
  • Sunil Varghese, Policy Director, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP): “Every helicopter out, every airplane out means that many more Afghans are able to flee into a protection pathway. And so, we just need to make sure that we’re getting more flights out and those flights have Afghans as well as any Americans that are still there.”
  • Refugee Council USA: “We have a moral responsibility to act, and act swiftly. In this moment of acute crisis, Refugee Council USA calls upon the Biden administration to bring Afghan refugees to safety immediately. America’s resettlement agencies and other refugee-serving organizations are ready to help and are capable of welcoming many thousands of additional refugees, Special Immigrant Visa recipients (SIVs), and other Afghans in need of protection with the support of local communities.”
  • Gayatri Patel, Vice President for External Relations, Women’s Refugee Commission: “Thousands of women put their lives at risk over the last two decades to advance the rights of women and girls across Afghanistan, many of whom helped the U.S. mission…The Biden administration has a moral obligation to ensure they are evacuated and safely resettled. We cannot leave these women and their families stranded. They must be evacuated on par with U.S. embassy personnel.”
  • Bilal Askaryar, Communications Coordinator for the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign: “Ordinary Afghans didn’t have time to settle their affairs or move to safer areas – they are now refugees in their own country. The Taliban are already going door to door finding journalists, prominent women, and marking the doors of ethnic and religious minorities. In order to prevent inestimable amounts of bloodshed, President Biden must immediately order the U.S. military to secure safe passage out of the country for Afghans who are at risk and provide them humanitarian parole into the United States. The time for politics is over; we need to save lives now.”
  • Vets for American Ideals: “Every single one of the Afghans who risked their lives to support U.S. forces deserves to be brought to safety in U.S. territory. Every. Single. One.”
  • Ali Noorani, President and CEO, National Immigration Forum: “The administration needs to immediately evacuate as many SIV applicants as possible — as well as their families and others eligible for protection — to Guam, to the U.S. or to another U.S. territory.”
  • Mohammed Naeem, Senior Manager for Strategy and Partnerships, American Immigration Council: “Afghans who supported the U.S. mission deserve the full and unequivocal protection of the United States government. Let history show that America stood by its word, protected human life, and supported all those who believe in democracy, freedom, and human rights. As an Afghan-American, I’m very concerned about my brothers and sisters in Afghanistan who will suffer, unless the international community acts with the urgency, decisiveness, and resolve needed to meet this moment and avoid tragic loss of life.”
  • Michelle Goldberg column in the New York Times, “Get Afghan Refugees Out. Then Let Them In: “[T]here is no moral argument against vastly expanded refugee admissions. America’s 20-year sojourn in Afghanistan is ending in horror. The question now is whether our humbled country will do the bare minimum to mitigate it.”
  • Catherine Rampell column in the Washington PostAmerica has time for one last honorable act: Getting our allies out of Afghanistan: “We must get our Afghan allies out and onto U.S. soil. As many as possible, as quickly as possible, in however little time is left.”
  • Sergio Gonzales, Executive Director, The Immigration Hub: “The circumstances in Afghanistan are not easy to solve or let alone watch. But what we do know is that there are Afghan women, children and many vulnerable families and minorities such as LGBTQ+ individuals who should have an opportunity and an immediate path to refuge and safety in America. From Ellis Island to our southern border today, our country has the tradition, resources and the power to receive individuals and families fleeing violence, natural disasters and persecution. It’s part of who we are and who we continue to aspire to be — an America that welcomes those yearning to be free and safe.”
  • Dr. Jessica Hernandez (Maya Ch’orti/Binnizá), Climate Justice Policy Strategist for International Mayan League: “As an Indigenous women-led organization, we call on the current administration to take action and provide emergency humanitarian parole for Afghan refugees who are in danger. Settler colonialism and U.S. interference has played a role in forced displacement that has resulted from violence and climate change. As a country, our politicians and administration can help mitigate this and support refugees escaping these conditions.”
  • Basma Alawee, Campaign Manager, We Are All America: “The images I saw today weigh heavy on my chest, as I was once in a similar situation. I want to be clear: we cannot betray our allies by leaving them behind where they will be vulnerable to human rights violations under Taliban rule. The Biden administration needs to act fast and provide emergency humanitarian parole for all Afghans who are in danger, including Afghan women. The situation in Afghanistan is quickly escalating, and the time to act is now.”
  • Karen Musalo, Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS): “We stand in solidarity with the Afghan people and urge the U.S. government to swiftly bring those under most imminent threat to safety. This means extending emergency humanitarian parole and chartering direct evacuation flights for women human rights defenders, politicians, journalists, and other highly visible women, members of vulnerable religious and ethnic minorities, and others at risk because of their assistance to our country over the years. The U.S. government has the capacity and an urgent moral imperative to act now to save lives.”
  • Margaret Huang, President and CEO, Southern Poverty Law Center: “The Biden administration must leave no stone unturned in fulfilling our obligations under international laws to the thousands of Afghans now in imminent danger, especially our allies, women, children and members of religious and ethnic minorities historically targeted by the Taliban. It is devastating the U.S. government has failed to act to protect these vulnerable and targeted people. This must be made right and those individuals must be provided the protections they, and every human, should be afforded – safety from persecution.”
  • Jonathan Goldman, Executive Director of the Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice: “Following the long history of suffering that the U.S. has inflicted onto the Afghan people, we must prioritize ensuring humanitarian parole for Afghans in danger and evacuate all Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders and their families. So many of the modern-day problems that force people to migrate have been caused by the U.S. and colonialism, and we cannot let this conflict be a repeat of this history.”
  • RAICES (THE Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services): “There are two things that currently mean life or death for thousands of Afghan people: communication with the U.S. Department of State about the status of their reunification cases and the security of the Kabul airport. If our government is unable to secure these two functions, all is potentially lost for them. We urge the U.S. in the strongest terms possible to continue to process all pending cases and to prioritize the safety and security of the Afghan people along with those U.S. Citizens still living in harm’s way.”
  • Lindsay Toczylowski, Executive Director, Immigrant Defenders Law Center: “As we see the heartbreaking images from Afghanistan, the horrific consequences of the Biden administration’s failure to offer even minimal protection to asylum seekers fleeing persecution is laid bare. The failure of this administration to reopen our doors to the most vulnerable and reimagine our protection system is inexcusable. The Biden administration must immediately charter direct evacuation flights for human rights defenders, Afghan women activists, and those most imminently under threat. The time to welcome refugees and asylum seekers is now; no more delays.”
  • Nili Sarit Yossinger, Executive Director, Refugee Congress: “Despite ongoing warnings about the dire consequences of such a hasty withdrawal, we are now left watching thousands of Afghans flee for their lives and safety. When we ask others to put themselves at risk for us, we have a moral obligation to ensure their safety. This response we are seeing from the administration — this is not who we are as a nation. We are failing our allies, and this administration must take action immediately to keep our promises to the thousands of people who put themselves at risk.”
  • Dina Al Bayati, Advocacy Associate, Immigration and Refugee Program, Church World Service: “As an Iraqi child who lived through the U.S.-Iraq war, and as a former SIV recipient, I’ve seen first-hand how the United States works alongside local nationals. We risk our lives, putting everything on the line, becoming more than a family with service members in the process. We do so because we know the United States is behind us. It breaks my heart to see Afghan families who stood by America now in grave danger. My friends and community members now plead with the Biden administration to save our allies. We must act in a strategic, timely, and efficient manner so our Afghan allies reach safety. We can, and should, bring these people home.” 
  • Archi Pyati, CEO, Tahirih Justice Center: “We are deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of the people of Afghanistan. In particular, women and girls may be the most impacted by the ongoing instability and violence. Narratives about ending gender-based violence are often used as an excuse for U.S. imperialism, though pathways to protection may be closed to those most vulnerable. We call on the administration to abide by its obligation and long-standing commitment to provide opportunities for safety and protection for all those impacted by the current crisis in Afghanistan.”
  • Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center: “After decades of U.S. warfare, Afghans have yet to experience the safety and dignity they deserve—and are even less likely to now, following the chaotic events of the past few days. We urge the U.S. asylum and refugee system to protect women, children, and all vulnerable people of Afghanistan.”
  • Michele Garnett McKenzie, Deputy Director, The Advocates for Human Rights: “We have an opportunity – and an obligation – to act immediately to protect people whose lives and freedom are in peril. Experience tells us that, when U.S. troops withdraw from protracted conflicts, the people who stood with us now stand in the line of fire. The United States can and must act swiftly to provide orderly protection in accordance with international human rights law, including to our allies.”
  • Karen Tumlin, Founder and Director, Justice Action Center: “Our obligation to the people of Afghanistan did not end with the withdrawal of U.S. forces. For decades, Afghans have worked with and assisted U.S. troops. We are obligated to ensure that Afghans now at risk due to their association with the U.S. as well as ethnic and religious minorities and women are safely evacuated and resettled. This is the time for action, not politics.”
  • Noah Gottschalk, Global Policy Lead, Oxfam America: “We are deeply concerned about the rapidly-deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the multiplying threats to Afghan people, particularly women and girls. The Biden administration has a responsibility to prevent an unfolding human tragedy from becoming a full-blown catastrophe on its watch by ensuring both a swift humanitarian response and the urgent evacuation of people in need of safety outside of Afghanistan. So far, the response from the Biden administration has been shockingly slow and woefully inadequate…”
  • America’s Voice: “We should use every single lever of power to evacuate and resettle as many Afghans. This is yet another example of why we need a robust and efficient refugee resettlement program.”