SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Afghan refugees forced to work with the Taliban may now have a path to enter the United States with protected immigration status.
These exemptions could apply to civil servants, including doctors, teachers, and engineers. Also, anyone that fought alongside U.S. service members that weren't able to get out in time after the U.S. withdrew in August of last year.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced exemptions for Afghan refugees hoping to come to the United States.
In a release, it was announced that Afghans who supported the U.S. and have already undergone rigorous screening and vetting can qualify for protection in our country.
The exemptions apply to three categories; those that fought alongside the U.S. military, were civil servants who held their positions before the Taliban rule and individuals who provided limited support to the Taliban.
The government says examples of this could be paying a bribe at a Taliban checkpoint or paying a fee to the Taliban to get a passport. Shawn VanDiver, the president and founder of #AfghanEvac, said these exemptions are the right move. #AfghanEvac is an organization founded in San Diego.
"They could be killed if they didn't take these actions," explained VanDiver.
VanDiver said lifting the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds, also known as trig, opens up the door for many who had no choice but to interact with the Taliban.
"It's a matter of life and death so we can't ask them to not do these things and choose death," said VanDiver.
The exemptions don't mean automatic entry into the U.S., qualifying candidates must still be vetted through a lengthy process that includes review by the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, FBI, and counterterrorism professionals.
"We made promises to these folks, the folks that are eligible aren't just folks off the street, these are folks who stood with us and they believed in the promise of America, and it's time we kept our promise," said VanDiver.
The U.S. says these exemptions will be approved on a case-by-case basis. The policy will not apply to anyone who targeted U.S. interests, violated human rights, or supported the Taliban.
Read the full release here.