Senate’s ambitious $118 Billion bill encounters hurdles in fulfilling promise

Majority Leader of the United States Senate - Chuck Schumer | Credits: AP Photo
Majority Leader of the United States Senate - Chuck Schumer | Credits: AP Photo

United States: The mega $118 billion Senate border bill not only merged border security legislation once in more than a decade and war relief for Israel and Ukraine but also offered the US to make good on its pledge to employ past servants amongst Distressed Afghans that worked with US Soldiers in America’s longest war, as per reported by Associated Press.

A Long-Awaited Provision

Around the vast volume of the package is a provision that would finally offer a route to residency for tens of thousands of Afghan refugees who flew into the US Army planes following the hasty retreat from Afghanistan in June 2021.

Democrats and Conservatives Clash

A problem arises in that the measure might not succeed if members are unable to come to a consensus over the bill’s general, unrelated details. Democrats, in particular the supporters of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, have protested against what they call for demagogical and far-right-edge border policies in legislation that they claim does not help to repair the country’s broken immigration system.

The conservatives have already stated that the package is not drastic enough to ensure that there is a limitation on the number of migrant crossings at the southern border on a daily basis.

As a failure, it will come to epitomize one more let down for Afghans living in the United States in numbers greater than 76,000 who remained in the deadlock of immigration due to years of congressional inaction.

Congressional Inaction Looms

Representation – Afghan Adjustment Act. | Credit – Getty Images

Congress, comprising a bipartisan group of lawmakers and advocacy groups, has been fighting for close to three years to get a bill, the Afghan Adjustment Act, to be passed by a House or Senate vote, which would prevent Afghans from being stranded without legal residency status after their humanitarian paroles expire.

Background check standards have been challenged by Republican lawmakers to whom vetting requirements for refugees resettled in the United States, and their relatives who remain stuck in Kabul have been vehemently opposed by advocates

A Struggle for Recognition

The bipartisan border deal marked a long-cherished occasion. In order to close this gap and to provide legislative text acceptable to the two sides, Republican and Democratic senators and their staff cooperated together. They would also incorporate proposals that would link measures that allow qualified Afghans to later apply for US citizenship, such as what was previously provided for Cuban refugees, as well as those that came from Vietnam, Iraq, and others, with tougher and faster vetting processes

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware / Credit – Getty Images

“I think the most gracious thing would be to say there’s been a lot of twists and turns, but I’m very happy with the result,” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, one of the lead sponsors of the effort, told The Associated Press on Monday. “And I’m very glad that it’s included because this is an important signal that the United States stands by those who stand by us.”

Negotiations for Inclusive Measures

Humanitarian parole was granted as part of the massive resettlement effort. Operation Allies Welcome, the most extensive resettlement program in decades in the US, promised a life journey in the US to the refugees in return for their service.

“Our position is that Afghans stood by us for 20 years, and over the past three years, they’ve been asked to take a backseat to every other bill,” said Shawn Vandiver, a Navy veteran and head of #AfghanEvac, a coalition supporting Afghan resettlement efforts. “And so, it is really nice to see that they’re included in this one.”

However, the hopes for fulfilling that promise to the old friends of America’s mission in Kabul may be short-lived. The bill has been considered to be a non-starter by Republican leaders in the House, and even if it secures passage in the Senate, the deal was negotiated, the mountain is a tough climb.

On the one hand, the proponents of the Afghan provision are currently waiting for the destiny of the package, willing to stay optimistic about their progress.

Moreover, Vandiver, who has been contributing to this problem in the framework of cooperation with the State Department since the US withdrawal, said that he had heard many enthusiasts from the Afghan allies and their relatives over the last 12 hours due to their inclusion in the package.

He then said that it is now us who need to set expectations, which is completely understandable. Humanity, these people have already gone through so much torture and harm, and we might be actually embarrassed that we can’t find a way to offer them the permanency that they deserve.