This week, we read about Afghan refugees arriving in the U.S., an immigration policy affecting foreign postdocs, and an immigration rally in Chicago.

‘We were very lucky’: Afghan refugees arrive in US, exhausted but relieved 

Over 100,00 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan by the U.S. after the Taliban seized control of Kabul. Many of the Afghans are arriving as part of the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which has a special category for vulnerable Afghans who worked with the U.S. during the twenty-year war.  

Many refugees are entering through the Dulles Airport outside of Washington, D.C.  Returning U.S. citizens and green card holders can leave freely once they are tested for COVID-19. However, refugees require additional screening before they are released into the country. Though, many of the refugees are happy to have made it to the U.S. at all.  

“There were dangerous moments at Kabul airport because the Taliban surrounded the airport. They were fighting with the people … I spent two whole nights in front of the gates,” said 21-year-old Abidullah Sarwan, a refugee from Afghanistan.   

Many Afghans in the U.S. await the arrival of their family members. However, this process has been difficult and complicated. Many have said there is no clear process for Afghan refugees, and that much of it is a “waiting game.”  

“I went through the process myself and now I see my people again in a desperate situation that breaks my heart. As a world superpower, I cannot comprehend how we’ve left the country in the hands of the Taliban,” said Sam, a businessman who fled Afghanistan in 1986 during the Afghan-Soviet war. 

This unsettling process has been extremely difficult for those awaiting the safe arrival of their family members in the U.S. 

 

A serious immigration problem you probably haven’t heard about 

 An immigration decision by the Biden administration is preventing foreign post-doctoral research assistants (also known as “post-docs”) from entering the U.S.  A “post-doc” is a person who does research after completing a doctoral degree. 

The decision suspends the entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants to the U.S. out of caution for COVID-19. President Biden defended the decision with claims of “following the science.” Yet, many argue that this decision will hold the U.S. back in science research and competition. Over a thousand post-docs in the U.S. signed an open letter to the President pleading him to give an exception to the travel restriction.   

From an economic standpoint, post-docs are critical in leading grant-funded research. This is a major element of the way the U.S. scientific system functions.  The post-docs that signed the letter argued that this decision is problematic for foreign postdocs entering the U.S. as well as ones already here. Because so many of the postdocs in the U.S. are immigrants, if they leave the country for any reason, they will have difficulty returning.   

Many are wondering what a long-term solution might be to grant exceptions for foreign post-docs.  

 “In the meantime, (President Biden) should consider granting a blanket NIE to postdoc researchers and other appropriate groups. If he wants the U.S. to continue competing on the world stage in science and technology, it’s essential,” says author Nolan Rappaport. 

 

Community groups rally in the Loop, pushing for immigration reform 

Immigration advocates marched through the Loop this past Tuesday. Participants urged Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants. Immigration organizations and advocates came together to spread the message of “citizenship for all.” The demonstration took place downtown outside of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices.  

“We want to make sure that all members of the community that we serve are included,” said Sam Sung Cheol Park, DACA recipient and attorney. “We are not looking for a piecemeal legislation where only a subset of individuals get granted citizenship.”

 

“Every member of my community has that feeling,” said Irasema Soriano, an organizer with Mujeres Latinas en Acción. “That’s why I’m here fighting for them. We are the voice of the community, and we will continue fighting until we achieve citizenship for the 11 million (immigrants).” 

Organizers announced that they will continue the rally in September in Washington, D.C. 

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