As tens of thousands of Afghans continue to be brought into the US following the country's withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Biden Administration is planning to exempt Afghan civil servants that served under the previous Taliban regime from terror-related entry bans pending their passing of full background and screening requirements.
According to a draft document obtained by Fox News, a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) planning document outlines plans from the Department of Homeland Security to issue a memorandum allowing these civil servants into the country.
These civil servants would be exempted from terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG) if they are found clear through other background and screening requirements.
TRIG bans those who are found to be members of a terrorist organization or those who engaged in terrorism from entering the United States, making them ineligible for immigration benefits.
The USCIS website says that the definition of terrorism-related activity "is relatively broad and may apply to individuals and activities not commonly thought to be associated with terrorism."
Under TRIG, those civil servants that worked under the previous Taliban regime, which reigned in the country from 1996 until 2001, would likely be banned from entering the country.
"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," the document said. "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 US government or the Afghan government that was established in Dec. 22, 2001," the document adds.
TRIG exemptions for Afghan civil servants were reportedly finalized during the Obama administration, according to Fox News, but was never published or applied to any refugees.
USCIS said that the guidance is now being applied in anticipation of increased filings from Afghan nationals. The document allows USCIS officers to exempt from TRIG the employment by the Taliban of civil servants between Sept. 1996 and Dec. 2001.
An administration official stressed to Fox News that the exemptions from TRIG would not change what screening processes are used, and noted that each individual would be properly screened and vetted before being allowed into the country.
"The official also said that similar exemptions have been made with refugees from countries like the Soviet Union and Cuba, and that, without an exemption, Afghans who worked as teachers or in health care could be excluded from entering the US," wrote Fox News.
"The effect [of the memo] is that people who worked as doctors, grade school teachers, civil servants or low-level government employees wouldn't automatically be barred from ever entering the United States because they worked in those professions," the official said, adding that the status of the document is "pre-decisional."