It was almost 3 a.m. in New York, but Nazdana Hassani stared at her phone, closing and refreshing WhatsApp, hoping that her mother’s internet had been restored at her home in Afghanistan.
The last time Hassani saw her mother in person was August 2021, days before the Taliban seized control of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Hassani, 24, served in the Afghan National Army’s Female Tactical Platoon, a squad of women that accompanied U.S. Special Operations troops on missions seeking out high-level Taliban, al-Qaida and Islamic State targets. As the Taliban took over two summers ago, Hassani faced a decision: live under a repressive government as a woman who worked alongside the U.S. Army, or flee her home country for the United States.
“If I stayed, the Taliban would have killed me and my family,” she said.
Of the 45 Afghan women who served in Hassani’s platoon, 39 escaped amid the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops nearly two years ago.
Now Hassani and most of her platoon are among the tens of thousands of Afghans living in the United States as humanitarian parolees, a temporary legal status. This month, the Biden administration announced a plan to allow Afghans to apply for a parole extension so they can continue living and working in the United States after their status expires in August. It is unclear if the extensions, if granted, would be for two years, as they were the first time.
For those who were in the platoon, the goal is to stay in the United States long term and to have their families, who are still in Afghanistan, join them. Hassani and nearly all of the platoon members have applied for asylum – a protected status for those fearing persecution in their home country – but the system is severely backlogged. Only three of the women so far have been granted asylum, which enables them to obtain a green card and bring their families over.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has sponsored the Afghan Adjustment Act, a bill that would create a legal pathway for permanent residency for Afghans who worked alongside Americans during the Afghanistan conflict.
The legislation stalled in the last Congress amid Republican concerns about the vetting of applicants, but Klobuchar said she was working with Republicans to build support for another attempt later this year.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.