Since August 2021, Binghamton United has been involved in efforts to help Afghans who are seeking asylum and trying to relocate to the United States.
Our recent efforts have been focused on helping some of the Afghan refugees who were airlifted out of Afghanistan and were in temporary housing on U.S. military bases. The existing refugee resettlement agencies in the United States do not have the capacity to handle all of them, so a new model called a “Sponsor Circle” was developed. This model allows smaller community groups to work in partnership with a refugee resettlement agency to host one or more refugee families. Working closely with the American Civic Association, members of the Temple Concord community, and other people in the Binghamton region, the Binghamton Regional Afghan Immigration Network (BRAIN) was created. BRAIN is one of three Sponsor Circles that have been formed in our area — there is another one in Binghamton and also one in Owego.
Now BRAIN’s application to host a family of 5 has been approved, and we will be receiving a family soon. We’re looking for donations of household goods, clothing, school supplies, and other items. Here is the SignUp Genius where you can see what is needed and sign up to donate.
Binghamton United also spearheaded an effort last fall to help a local Afghan-American family try to rescue members of their extended family who were unable to be airlifted out of Afghanistan by the U.S. military. The family is of an ethnic and religious minority that has been persecuted by the Taliban, and those who are still in Afghanistan remain in grave danger. The best method available to try to get travel documents for them is called Humanitarian Parole. Each application costs $575 to file and requires a financial sponsor to pledge to support the parolee once they arrive in the U.S.
By the end of October, we had helped them file Humanitarian Parole applications for 122 of their family members. It became clear that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was not going to approve any more HP applications until the Afghan refugees who had been evacuated to U.S. military bases got relocated to permanent housing, which is how we became involved in the Sponsor Circle model. We still have 65 applications waiting to be filed, but for now we are waiting to see some progress with the thousands of HP applications that USCIS has already received from all over the country.