The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Give our Afghan allies a real chance to succeed in the United States

Afghan refugees wait to disembark a chartered bus at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly on Aug. 23. (Craig Hudson/For the Washington Post)
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The Post has been making a valiant effort to remind Americans just how challenging it is for some 80,000 Afghan refugees starting new lives in the United States, including, most recently, the April 29 editorial “U.S. allies in limbo” and the May 8 Metro article “In Kabul, he worked as a senior official. In the U.S., he makes $15 an hour.

We need the reminders. Refugee agencies are stretched thin. Neighborhood organizations, though remarkably capable and generous with donations of time and resources, can do only so much. As the editorial said, private “help has been critical, but it is a poor substitute for systematic government assistance.” It is clear the government needs to do more.

The Biden administration recently asked Congress to include a pathway for Afghan refugees to become legal permanent residents of the United States. But as The Post’s reporting shows, refugees need jobs. To be eligible for jobs, some need additional education and training. Why not include educational support — a sort of GI Bill for Afghan allies — to allow them to earn the training certificates and credentials they need? Since World War II, GI bills have provided educational support critical in helping U.S. vets transition from war fighting to civilian life. Why not do the same for Afghan allies who fought and worked alongside us for 20 years of war in Afghanistan? If we’re giving them a pathway to legal residency, why not offer them a chance to make the most of it?

Desaix Myers, Arlington