PHOENIX - Nearly two years after the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, nearly 100,000 refugees have moved to the U.S.
Those who moved to the U.S. have settled in various parts of the country, and dozens now claim Arizona as their new home.
Among the dozens of refugees who now live in Arizona is a man who barely escaped being recruited by the Taliban.
While Mustafa Jailani is now waiting for his Green Card, his younger brothers are in legal limbo, a situation that thousands of others are facing.
"I can’t go back to Afghanistan," said Mustafa. "That is too sad for me, because home is home."
Mustafa worked as a translator, and helped American troops communicate. After the fall of the country, he said his skill was sought after by the Taliban, and said they told him to join their ranks, or be killed.
"They say come and join with us. Why are you helping U.S. Army? You have to help us. If you reject our requests, we are going to find you, and we are going to kill you," Mustafa recounted.
Mustafa, his parents, and his siblings narrowly escaped on an evacuation flight, and after traveling through several countries, they were ultimately reunited with family already living in Arizona.
So far, fewer than 5,000 of the nearly 77,000 Afghans resettled in the U.S. have secured permanent legal status.
"I am so happy and feeling peace here," said Mustafa.
Mustafa's brothers, however, are still waiting on their cases, along with hundreds of other Afghan evacuees who were initially granted parole, which allows them to stay in the U.S. without a visa, but does not offer a path to citizenship.
At one point, many Afghan refugees on parole were bracing for the prospect of losing their ability to stay in the U.S. this summer, due to the lack of action by Congress. However, President Joe Biden recently launched a ‘re-parole’ application process. Starting in June, Afghan refugees can renew their temporary work permits to ensure they can stay for at least another two years.
For now, however, Mustafa is excited for the future. He works for the non-profit Refugees and Immigrants Community for Empowerment, helping assist other Afghan migrants who resettle in Arizona.
"They need our help, so we are going to help them apply for the food stamps, home rents, some donations. We have some stuff for their homes. If they need it, we will help them," said Mustafa.
Many Afghan refugees also want the President and Congress to create additional and more permenant pathways towards citizenship, in order to avoid any future legal limbo.