Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



International Migration Studies


Philip Kasinitz

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | International Relations | Islamic World and Near East History | Other International and Area Studies | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Social Justice | Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies


Afghan Migration, Afghan Diaspora, U.S Withdrawal from Afghanistan, Soviet-Afghan War, Afghan-War, Afghan Migrant Policy, Afghan Resettlement in the United States, Afghans in the US


Afghanistan has been at war with the West since the late 1900’s, remaining in a state of constant turmoil. During the Cold War (1979), Afghanistan had fought a war with the Soviet Union, known as the Soviet- Afghan War. During this time, Afghanistan was invaded by both the Soviet and US, creating a ground for terrorism and the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. In order to then eradicate the terrorist regime, the Taliban, the United States went to war with Afghanistan in 2001. The Taliban were suppressed by U.S. forces until August 2021, during which President Biden executed a sudden exit plan which removed all US troops from the country. As a result, the Taliban was given the opportunity to again seize control of the country. The overall poor economic status, inequality, and rocky political transition of Afghanistan can, hence, be explained by the decades of conflict, foreign intervention, and instability. For the purpose of this capstone I will be splitting my paper into two parts. For the first part of this paper, I will examine the factors that forced immigrants to flee their homes from Afghanistan, particularly prior to the Soviet- Afghan war. This will lead me into my research and understanding of how foreign intervention in Afghanistan, specifically the Soviet-Afghan war, initiated the Afghan diaspora. Through studying the forces that force Afghan immigrants out of their country, I will be able to further explore the underlying inequalities within Afghanistan. This study, overall, will allow me to examine political instability, ethnic and gender inequalities, and the evolution of ethnic divisions within the Afghan state.

As previously mentioned, the Soviet-Afghan war gave rise to the extremist Taliban regime which led to a diaspora. The UNHCR has also reported that Afghan refugees entail one of the world’s largest refugee populations with more than 2.2 million refugees (How Many Refugees, 2021). Although there was a massive Afghan diaspora after the Taliban took control, a larger migration was triggered upon the U.S withdrawal of Afghanistan in 2021. At this time, more than 600,000 Afghans were forced to flee their homes (How Many Refugees, 2021). It is important to note that as of today, approximately six million total Afghans have been driven from their home, marking the U.S withdrawal from Afghanistan as one of the largest Afghan diasporas in history. For the purpose of this paper, I will be examining the state of Afghanistan during the early 1900’s, during the Soviet-Afghan war, and during the U.S withdrawal of Afghanistan in 2021.

The analysis in the first part of my paper will lead into the second part of my capstone in which I examine the challenges Afghan evacuees faced in the United States since 2021. I will scrutinize how migration policies have affected social, legal, cultural, and economic integration in the United States depending on what legal category Afghans arrive under: for example, Refugees, Humanitarian Paroles, or Special Immigrant Visa holders. Hence, I examine what challenges recent Afghan evacuees face in the United States and how these particular groups of Afghans are affected by migration policies during their period of integration. Moreover, I will also identify how the newly arrived Afghans rely on the older established Afghan communities.