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Afghan refugees and Haitians at the Texas border: Who's worthy of US protection?

www.vox.com
7 min read
fairly difficult
The US embraced Afghan refugees. Where's its sympathy for migrants at the border?
The US has made a distinction between Afghan refugees and the other vulnerable populations arriving at America's doorstep. And it's a false one.

Afghans fleeing Taliban rule have so far occupied a unique space in the immigration policy debate. In a climate where immigration has become a political wedge, there has been overwhelming bipartisan support for resettling at least some of them in the US: Polling has shown that 76 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats back resettlement efforts for Afghans who aided US troops. When it comes to other asylum seekers, the numbers are starkly different. For example, 64 percent of registered voters believe Biden needs to institute stricter policies at the southern border.

What makes Americans sympathetic to Afghan refugees compared to other people seeking protection? Some rightly feel a moral responsibility to protect those who were forced to leave their home due to their government's ill-conceived and failed nation-building efforts, especially those who worked alongside American forces.

But what may also be a factor is that the Afghan war was also the kind of faraway conflict typically associated with the sort of refugees the US has historically admitted, like Somalis fleeing ongoing civil war in their home country.

Complicating this idea, however, is the fact that the kind of persecution and peril Afghans face in their home country is markedly similar to that faced by asylum seekers arriving on the US-Mexico border. Those from Central America's Northern Triangle — Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala — are fleeing brutal gang violence, extortion, and government corruption, which are compounded by poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and climate-related issues. The same is true of many other groups as well, like the thousands of Haitians gathered in Del Rio, Texas.

Though the US has not fought a 20-year war in the Northern Triangle or in Haiti, it has played a direct role in creating the societal ills people…
Nicole Narea
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