BOSTON – The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) issued the following statement urging the Biden administration to take swift and decisive action to aid refugees and asylum-seekers in two developing crises that currently impact millions around the world.
“Today we see two new humanitarian crises developing on opposite sides of the globe,” said Daniel Pereira, Communications Director for the MIRA Coalition. “The collapse of the Afghan government and rapid advance of the Taliban puts the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians at risk – especially those employed by U.S. military and coalition forces over the last 20 years of war and conflict, as well as women and children.
“In Haiti, we see a rapidly rising death toll as a result of a magnitude 7.2 earthquake just West of Port-au-Prince, further devastating a nation already suffering deeply from the COVID-19 pandemic, the assassination of president Jovenel Moïse, political and gang-related violence, and an incoming tropical storm.
“MIRA urges the Biden administration to help alleviate suffering in both Afghanistan and Haiti by providing safety for those seeking refugee status and protection. Given our government and military’s involvement in Afghanistan over the last two decades, we have a duty of care to those civilians the U.S.employed over those 20 years, who may now face violence and reprisals from Taliban forces.
“These civilians can be protected in the short term and given shelter, and the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program can be both expanded and expedited, given that more than 300,000 Afghans have had some affiliation with US forces, yet only 16,000 Afghan SIVs have been issued since the program began in 2014. The U.S. could also extend TPS protection to Afghans now residing in the U.S., and assist on-the-ground efforts to protect and resettle the many refugees who will doubtless begin seeking routes out of the country.
“MIRA also calls on the Biden administration to provide immediate humanitarian relief to Haiti and to implement an immediate halt of all deportations to Haiti, including deportations at the border. The Biden administration and Department of Homeland Security should also expand and open up the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti, allowing those who may arrive in the coming weeks and months to also receive TPS status.”