Afghans fleeing Taliban forced to make 11-country trek amid slow US asylum process: report
Afghans fleeing the Taliban have resorted to trekking across 11 countries through South and Central America to reach the United States’ southern border as the U.S. immigration system fails to quickly process asylum applications, a report by Reuters on Wednesday found.
Thousands of Afghans were apprehended at the U.S. southern border in 2022, with half of the 2,132 arrivals reportedly making the border crossing in November and December.
The stark jump in Afghans illegally crossing the border to claim asylum jumped by 30% from the previous year following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent Taliban takeover.
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G3 Box News Digital could not immediately reach the State Department for comment, but according to Reuters, the department said it is working to speed up the visa process for “the brave Afghans who stood side-by-side with the United States over the past two decades.”
Many of the Afghans seeking refuge outside the Taliban-run country began their journey in Brazil after applying for humanitarian visas. However, an overrun system has meant many were unable to successfully start a new life in South America and instead began the journey north to the U.S. border.
The State Department said it has also worked with other governments to try and prevent “irregular migration” and according to the U.N. refugee agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Brazil has been critical in assisting fleeing Afghans.
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The humanitarian visa program offered through the Brazilian government reportedly offers a two-year residency along with the right to work, study and apply for refugee status.
The UNHCR told Reuters that Brazil’s program is “an extremely important contribution” to aiding Afghan migrants.
However, Brazilian shelters have reportedly become “overwhelmed” by the number of refugees seeking support after some 4,000 Afghans entered the country after the program’s inception on Sept. 21, 2021.
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In 2021 a reported 24 Afghans made the dangerous journey from Brazil up through Columbia and into Panama, the only land crossing between South and Central America, just the beginning of the trek up to the U.S. border.
By the end of 2022, that figure had apparently jumped 2,200 travelers that conversed region known as the Darien Gap, according to data provided by the Panamanian government.
Its is unclear how many of the 2,200 Afghans successfully finished their trip at the U.S.-Mexico border.