The Honorable Senator Joni Ernst
730 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Senator Diane Feinstein
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
RE: Supporting Afghan Women & Girls through the Afghan Adjustment Act
In November 2021, you led a bi-partisan group of 24 women Senators to urge President Biden’s administration to develop plans to preserve the political, economic, social and basic human rights of Afghan women and girls in the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal. In your letter, you very rightly reminded the President that he and America had promised to maintain an enduring partnership with the people of Afghanistan, particularly those resisting the rule of the Taliban.
Your letter captured the deep concern of so many with the manner in which the United States withdrew from Afghanistan and the impact of its withdrawal on those Afghans most at-risk of reprisal and suffering under Taliban rule, women and girls in particular. More than a year later, your concerns have been proven well-placed. Afghan women and girls have been subjected to unspeakable suffering, escalating violence, and profound loss of their most basic human rights. Outside of the country, Afghan women and girls have faced the humanitarian crisis of mass displacement as they fled for their lives.
We write to you today to highlight a critical opportunity to continue to stand with Afghan women and girls. In August 2021, tens of thousands of Afghan women and girls were evacuated to the U.S. through Operation Allies Welcome. They include the family members of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders that stood shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. military and were at grave risk of Taliban reprisals. They are also, like many of the undersigned individuals, leaders and activists who stood with the U.S. in building democracy and advancing human rights for 20 years. They, too, were in grave danger of targeted violence and death because of their work and association with the United States, which is why they took the risk and endured great hardship to evacuate to America.
The protection that the U.S. has offered them thus far, however, is temporary. As you may know, a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives, including Senators Klobuchar and Murkowski, introduced the Afghan Adjustment Act this past August. This marked a significant step toward ensuring that the safety and security offered by the U.S. to its Afghan allies, women and girls included, becomes permanent. We, organizations working for a brighter future for Afghan women and girls, hand in hand with Afghan women themselves, strongly support the legislation and ask you to do the same.
In doing so, you will be standing with Afghan women and girls as you did last year. These women are academics, students, journalists, human rights activists, civil servants and female members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). The U.S. has been fortunate to welcome them into our communities. This group also includes many young Afghan women and girls, who have been spared, at least for as long as they’re able to remain in the U.S., from the suffocation of the Taliban regime and are learning to aspire and achieve as rising Americans.
The Afghan Adjustment Act represents the best opportunity to deliver on the promises America made to these women and girls – both over the course of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and certainly in helping them escape the brutal fate and unconscionable conditions placed on them by the Taliban. Thank you for standing with Afghan women and girls at this critically important time by supporting this urgently needed legislation.
The Afghan-American Foundation
Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security
Undersigned Afghan Women evacuated to the U.S. and currently lacking a path to permanent safety:
Fatema D Ahmadi
Jamhoora Bibi Zadran
Manila Muslim Dost
Mary Jan Rakazasa
Nabila Qadiri Kohistani
Qamar Gul Noorzai
*A significant number of similarly situated women expressed their support for this letter but were unableto sign it due to concerns about their personal safety and the safety of their families.
Cc: Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) Senator Tina Smith (Minn.) Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)