Congressman optimistic bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act will pass

Humanitarian parolees risk deportation next year

SAN ANTONIO – U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said the Afghan Adjustment Act pending in Congress, which could affect tens of thousands of humanitarian paroles, “should be adopted by the end of the year.”

Castro said he is optimistic about the legislation, which has “robust support” in both the House and the Senate,

will pass as part of the government funding package.

He said the Afghan Adjustment Act will help “at-risk Afghans flee to safety in the U.S. and provide a pathway to citizenship for Afghans currently in the U.S. who cannot return home.”

“I pray for this to happen,” said Margaret Constantino, executive director of the Center for Refugee Services.

Constantino said she’s been anxiously awaiting word.

“It’s been swirling around for many months now,” she said.

Constantino said many of the 4,600 Afghan refugees she’s helped are among the American allies who were granted 24 months of humanitarian parole in the U.S.

“We’re running out of time because now we’re a good 18 months into that time frame,” she said.

However, if they haven’t applied for asylum or received their green cards, Constantino said those refugees and their families risk being deported back to Afghanistan.

A refugee who only identified himself as “Mohammed” for security reasons said, thankfully, he has his green card, but many others are worried.

He said to return to Afghanistan would mean retribution or even death at the hands of the Taliban or trying to survive in a country where people are starving and don’t even have wood to burn for warmth in the bitter cold.

Mohammed said it would be a double tragedy.

He said the first was being forced to flee their homeland, and the other is “to send people back to Afghanistan.”

For that reason, Mohammed echoes Constantino’s hopes for the Afghan Adjustment Act.

“Please, please, please, pass the act,” he said.

Castro sent KSAT the following statement:

“During our two decades in Afghanistan, American troops worked closely with hundreds of thousands of Afghans who believed in a free and stable future for their country. Today, many of those brave men and women face persecution by Taliban leaders who want to drag the country back in time. My office has worked very hard to evacuate our Afghan allies, and I’m grateful that many have been able to begin new lives in San Antonio. I strongly support the Afghan Adjustment Act, a bipartisan bill that would help at-risk Afghans flee to safety in the United States and provide a pathway to citizenship for Afghans currently in the U.S. who cannot return home. The Afghan Adjustment Act has robust support in both the House and the Senate, and I’m optimistic that it will pass as part of the government funding package that should be signed into law before the end of the year.”


About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.