New life, new struggles: Afghans still adjusting to US

Taliban forces had taken the Afghan capital. Crowds of panicked individuals thronged the airport. And a younger man who had labored as a subcontractor for the US army confronted a horrible alternative.

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Hasibullah Hasrat, after having navigated the chaotic streets and Taliban checkpoints to make it contained in the airport, might both return for his spouse and two younger youngsters or board an evacuation flight and get them later. Not taking the flight possible meant none of them would get out of Afghanistan.

Hasrat’s choice haunts him. He’s within the US, considered one of greater than 78,000 Afghans admitted into the nation following the US troop withdrawal in August that ended America’s longest conflict. However his household hasn’t been in a position to be a part of him.

They’re nonetheless in Afghanistan, the place an financial disaster has led to widespread starvation and the place Taliban repression is on the rise.

“My spouse is alone there,” he mentioned, his voice breaking as he describes nightly telephone calls house. “My son cries, asks the place I’m, when am I coming. And I don’t know what to say.”

It’s a reminder that the journey for lots of the Afghans who got here to america within the historic evacuation stays very a lot a piece in progress, crammed with uncertainty and anxiousness concerning the future.

Afghan refugees, a few of whom confronted doable reprisals for working with their authorities or American forces throughout the conflict with the Taliban, say in interviews that they’re grateful to the US for rescuing them and relations.

However they’re usually struggling to realize a foothold in a brand new land, straining to pay their payments as help from the federal government and resettlement companies begins to expire, caught in momentary housing, and attempting to determine the right way to apply for asylum as a result of many of the Afghans got here underneath a two-year emergency standing referred to as humanitarian parole.

“We’re not positive what might occur,” mentioned Gulsom Esmaelzade, whose household has been shuttled between resort rooms within the San Diego space since January, after spending three months at a New Jersey army base. “We don’t have something again at house in Afghanistan and right here we additionally don’t have any future.”

It’s taken a toll. Esmaelzade mentioned her mom has needed to be rushed thrice to the emergency room when her blood stress shot as much as harmful ranges. The youthful lady attributes it to the stress of their lives.

Then there are extra mundane challenges which can be nonetheless daunting for a lot of Afghans. They embody studying English, navigating authorities bureaucracies and public transportation, and discovering a job.

There may be additionally the isolation for these, like Hasrat, who got here alone. “I don’t know anybody right here,” he mentioned within the house outdoors Washington he shares with two different evacuees. “I’ve no buddies, no household, no family members. I simply dwell with my roommates and my roommates are from different elements of Afghanistan.”

Some have managed to get established. “However there are lots of extra who usually are not doing superb than are doing effectively,” mentioned Megan Flores, government director of the Immigrant & Refugee Outreach Heart in McLean, Virginia.

The expertise of the evacuated Afghans will not be not like what refugees have traditionally confronted in coming to america.

In some methods it’s a preview for the as much as 100,000 Ukrainians who President Joe Biden says will probably be welcomed, additionally in lots of instances on two years of humanitarian parole.

Afghans on humanitarian parole should apply for a method to keep within the nation reminiscent of via asylum.

It’s a time-consuming course of that sometimes requires discovering an immigration lawyer, at a value of 1000’s of {dollars} not available to most refugees except they’ll discover somebody to do it professional bono.

The Division of Homeland Safety says about half of the 78,000 possible will finally qualify for the particular immigrant visa, or SIV, program.

It grants everlasting residency to individuals, together with their speedy household, who labored for the US authorities. Hasrat hasn’t been in a position to safe an SIV, a minimum of not but, regardless of his work as a subcontractor establishing transmission traces for the US Military.

Congress might resolve the scenario by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act, which might allow evacuees to use for everlasting residency after a 12 months within the nation, just like aid granted prior to now to individuals from Iraq, Cuba and Vietnam.

Biden lately gave the hassle a lift when he endorsed the concept of including it to an upcoming Ukraine support invoice, a transfer welcomed by a coalition that features veterans, spiritual organizations and resettlement companies.

“They’re dealing with a ticking time bomb of what occurs in the event that they don’t get SIV or asylum standing,” mentioned Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “Do they get deported again to Afghanistan and into hurt’s means?”

Within the meantime, Afghans try to sew collectively new lives as public consideration has shifted to Ukraine and different issues.

At a current job honest in Alexandria, Virginia, there have been a whole lot of evacuees, together with Arafat Safi, a former senior official in Afghan’s overseas affairs ministry who got here to the US along with his spouse, 4 youngsters and mom.

He’s hoping to land a job in mission administration or worldwide growth, to make use of an schooling that features a grasp’s diploma from the UK To date, he’s landed a place as a Pashto-English interpreter and is delivering packages for Amazon on the facet whereas his spouse, Madina, works within the bakery part of a grocery store.

Safi mentioned he nonetheless hopes to discover a higher job and is raring to get everlasting residency. However he by no means complained in a prolonged interview on the household’s house in Alexandria. An intricate and vibrant Afghan rug — the one possession the household introduced from house — occupies a outstanding place in the lounge.

“I’m very fortunate to be right here, to be welcomed by the US society. I met a number of buddies right here who’re checking on me virtually each day,” mentioned the 35-year-old Safi. “And it’s superb. However there’s a small a part of me that misses Afghanistan and that misses my individuals.”

Hasrat mentioned he has little time to consider something apart from his household again house and the hazard they face from the Taliban. A 29-year-old former aggressive boxer, he rides a motorcycle to his job as an administrative assistant at a medical workplace.

After taxes and the cash he sends house, he barely has sufficient to pay his payments. His roommates, who’re nonetheless studying English, have even much less and have bother making the hire.

Most nights, Hasrat waits till it’s late sufficient to have a video chat along with his household. On one current name, he tried to affix the celebration of his youngsters’ birthdays however was unhappy to appreciate his daughter doesn’t even know him.

“I’m telling them that, ‘yeah, I’m comfortable,’ as a result of if I instructed them my scenario right here they are going to be unhappy,” he mentioned. “But when nobody is there to deal with your spouse, how are you going to be comfortable?”

Learn extra:

Norway slams Afghan Taliban edict demanding ladies cowl up head to toe in public

As Iran-Taliban tensions rise, Afghan migrants in tinderbox

Afghan evacuees fleeing Taliban face months extra limbo in UAE: US official

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