President Joe Biden is planning to waive terrorism restrictions and allow some Afghan civil servants who served during the previous Taliban regime from 1996-2001 into the United States.
According to a document obtained by Fox News, Biden will grant terrorism waivers to those officials as the administration continues to bring tens of thousands more Afghans into the U.S. as part of the country’s withdrawal after 20 years of fighting.
“The draft U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) planning document, reviewed by Fox News, outlines how the Department of Homeland Security is planning on issuing a memorandum to allow Afghan civil servants who worked during the Taliban regime to be exempted from terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG) if they fulfill other background and screening requirements,” the network reported exclusively Wednesday evening.
The TRIG restrictions limit those who are members of terrorist groups or who have taken part in acts of terrorism from coming into the U.S. They also make those individuals ineligible for immigration-related benefits, Fox News added.
According to the USCIS website, the agency defines terrorism-related activities as “relatively broad and may apply to individuals and activities not commonly thought to be associated with terrorism.”
As such, TRIG restrictions most likely apply to Afghans who were employed under the previous Taliban regime, which ruled the country from the mid-1990s until it was ousted by the U.S. invasion in October 2001 in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
“Many individuals who worked in civil service positions before the declaration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 1996 continued to do so after the declaration,” says the document in justifying the application, according to Fox News. “Some did so under duress or other situations of hardship.”
“Some used their positions in humanitarian capacities to mitigate the repressive actions of the Taliban regime, often at great personal risk. Some of these civil servants later worked for or helped the International Security Assistance Force, the U.S. government or the Afghan government that was established in Dec. 22, 2001,” the document notes further.
The consideration of allowing former Taliban regime staffers into the U.S. comes as the terrorist-supporting group came back into power over the summer as the U.S. began Biden’s ordered withdrawal from the war-torn country.
Since then, the administration has been evacuating tens of thousands of Afghans from their country, including many deemed “at risk,” Fox News added. Administration officials have said they expect to bring in as many as 95,000 Afghan evacuees this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.
In the final days of the Obama administration, officials finalized the TRIG exemption authority pertaining to Afghani civil servants. However, it was never applied to any refugees and was never published, according to the document obtained by Fox News.
The USCIS said that the guidance is now being applied because there is the anticipation that there will be an increase in filings from Afghan citizens, the network reported.
“The authority allows USCIS officers to exempt terror-related inadmissibility grounds that result from employment by the Taliban as civil servants between Sept. 1996 and Dec. 2001,” Fox News said.
An administration official told the network that despite the guidance, there will be no changes in standard vetting processes, “and that each individual would still be screened, evaluated and cleared by law enforcement and counterterrorism officials before being admitted into the U.S.”
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