1 of 2 | Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Wednesday the department has granted Afghanistan Temporary Protected Status, allowing some Afghan nationals already in the United States to remain. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
March 16 (UPI) -- Afghanistan has been granted Temporary Protected Status, allowing some Afghan nationals to remain in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday.
Only individuals who are already residing in the United States as of March 15 will be eligible for TPS, the department said in a release.
"This TPS designation will help to protect Afghan nationals who have already been living in the United States from returning to unsafe conditions," said the department's secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas.
"Under this designation, TPS will also provide additional protections and assurances to trusted partners and vulnerable Afghans who supported the U.S. military, diplomatic, and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan over the last 20 years."
The department made the designation amid the ongoing uncertainty and continued armed conflict in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.
The conditions make it impossible for Afghan nationals to return safely.
Since the Taliban forcibly swept back to power in August, Afghanistan has faced a collapsing public sector and economy, drought, food and water shortages, and lack of access to healthcare.
The group's leaders initially promised amnesty to anyone who had opposed them, including former government and military employees and their families, however stories soon emerged about the Taliban executing former police and intelligence officers and other western supporters.
Most Afghan nationals who arrived as part of the evacuation effort were paroled into the United States on a case-by-case basis for humanitarian reasons for a period of two years. They also received work authorization. They may be eligible for TPS.
Anyone applying for the designation must meet all other requirements, including undergoing security and background checks.
Anyone attempting to travel to the United States after March 15, will not be eligible for TPS, the department said.
The department made a similar TPS designation earlier in March covering Ukrainian nationals.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley deliver remarks about the end of the 20-year military mission in Afghanistan at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., on September 1. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo