The Biden Administration’s Afghan Executive Amnesty Exploited our Immigration Laws and Jeopardizes National Security

August 15, 2022

After mismanaging the evacuation plan for Afghanistan and the subsequent and swift takeover of the country by the Taliban, the Biden Administration began the mass importation of improperly screened and unvetted Afghans into the United States in blatant disregard of our immigration laws and every American’s desire for safe and secure communities.

In its haste to stick to the announced departure deadline of August 31, 2021, the Biden Administration turned to a first come, first served posture for filling evacuation planes. By the time the final plane was wheels up, the U.S. had evacuated approximately 124,000 people from Kabul, including about 6,000 U.S. citizens, but a countless (and still unknown) number of Americans were stranded in Kabul. Nearly all of the Afghans who made it onto those planes were working-age men, and few, if any, had undergone any vetting.

From the start, the Biden Administration branded this population as “Afghan evacuees,” a term that has no real meaning in U.S. immigration law. The administration remained silent as many in the media deceived the public by creating the impression that these Afghans would qualify for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) (an existing program created by Congress to help resettle into the U.S. Afghans who genuinely assisted in our war effort) or refugee status. With this Department of Homeland Security (DHS) disinformation campaign well underway, Secretary Mayorkas unlawfully allowed between 80,000-100,000 of these unvetted, visa-less Afghans into the U.S. through a categorical application of his parole authority.

Under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the DHS Secretary may parole into the country an otherwise inadmissible alien but only on a case-by-case basis for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or “significant public benefit.” By categorically granting parole, the Secretary essentially overrode U.S. immigration law and created a side door for entry into the country.

This approach is a dramatic departure from the standard process established for SIV Afghanistan applicants. As should be expected, the screening and vetting process for these applicants is extensive and must be, as there are national security and public safety concerns when bringing in aliens from terrorist hot spots across the world.

And yet, the Biden Administration’s DHS decided to overlook these legitimate concerns and began releasing Afghan evacuees into the U.S.—with their work permits—before all screening and vetting were completed. Some of these aliens went on to commit heinous crimes, including the sexual assault of a minor.

These major national security issues, including ineligibility for any immigration benefits, were outlined in a recent report by a Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG) investigation.

The report was both scathing and alarming, finding that the screening system used by DHS was denied full access to the more extensive screening system used by DoD. The IG found that 31 Afghans were allowed into the U.S. with derogatory information—and only three could be located. The investigation also “identified 50 Afghan personnel in the United States with information in DoD records that would indicate potentially significant security concerns.” DoD defines “significant security concerns” as “individuals whose latent fingerprints have been found on improvised explosive devices and known or suspected terrorists.” The Biden Administration seems to view our immigration laws and eligibility requirements as “barriers” to overcome in the name of a “compassionate” immigration policy, regardless of the potential threats to our national security and the public’s safety.

Despite the blistering report, the DoD IG has not led the Biden Administration to reassess its decision to allow unvetted Afghans into the country. Instead, and shortly after the report’s release, DHS Secretary Mayorkas designated these Afghans for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a form of executive amnesty that gives illegal aliens in the country a work permit, Social Security number, and driver’s license.

The granting of TPS all but ensures that these Afghans will never have to leave the U.S. despite not qualifying for any lawful immigration status. This is not the first time TPS has been arbitrarily applied to a group of illegal aliens. The “temporariness” is only nominal. When the Trump Administration attempted to terminate several countries it determined no longer met the statutory qualifications for TPS, activist judges blocked those decisions despite the law clearly saying these decisions are not subject to judicial review.

In this Afghanistan debacle, the Biden Administration deviated from all these standards in an intentional effort to reimagine our immigration laws without Congress actually changing them. In doing so, they’ve jeopardized national security and the safety of the American people.

A more in depth analysis of the immigration consequences of the botched Afghanistan withdrawal can be found here.