Like all of us, CBK has been shocked by the sudden events in Afghanistan this summer, and inspired by those who are helping – from soldiers at the Kabul airport who kept their posts in spite of terrorist threats, to refugee agencies in the US racing to welcome tens of thousands of Afghans evacuated. We were also fascinated by the range of connections made between the Afghanistan and American people over the past 20 years – we have been getting calls from a wide variety of people in the US who had a direct relationship with a person or family in Afghanistan.
How to Help?
There are many wonderful organizations doing great work, and we list only a couple here. If you are interested in helping, we suggest you visit this link to start. Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services has been at the forefront of engagement in Kabul, at US airports, and around the country. Miles for Migrants is a nonprofit that takes donations of air miles to help refugees get to safety. You can also reach out to your local refugee agency to see about helping Afghans being resettled in your area. And please check out the Evacuate Our Allies Campaign, which has some very good advocacy materials.
How to Stay Informed?
Again, many wonderful organizations providing updates. For a daily brief on immigration issues, mainly on Afghanistan now, with news clips, we recommend signing up for the National Immigration Forum’s Ali Noorani’s updates on a variety of social media platforms or as a daily email.
What is CBK Doing?
We have launched an Afghanistan Pro Bono initiative. At first our focus was solely to help people get out of Afghanistan, and unfortunately we only succeeded in a small number of cases. As you know from the news, the evacuations were chaotic, and some of our few successes were touch and go until the end. We are now:
1. Providing pro bono legal services to Afghans. We have teams within our office assigned to each family, and some of our “alums” (former employees) have joined in. For those in Afghanistan, anything we try depends on the ability to get out of the country. For those here in the United States, we have some breathing room to allow families to get settled, and work on immigration as a longer term project. We also supported one staff member who was detailed full-time for two weeks to volunteer at one of the military airports where Afghans are arriving.
2. Mentoring and training pro bono attorneys who are taking cases. We were part of AILA New England’s training for hundreds of lawyers and paralegals, and continue to do training and mentoring for universities, legal aid clinics, large law firms and the legal teams of several very l arge companies. This includes screening tools such as those we helped develop in 2016 with Refugees International. We are building on systems that our attorney Megan Kludt help develop for remote pro bono legal representation at the southern border and in immigration detention centers.
3. Helping to create targeted requests to US government agencies. For years, as shown in this 2017 article by attorney Dan Berger, the US has moved glacially on processing Afghan cases. Attorney Berger has contributed to letters from the higher education community and from the immigration bar with specific recommendations.
4. Advising colleges, universities and nonprofits on strategies to support Afghans during this crisis, and longer term. Dan spoke to university administrators, and has been supporting pathways for students who are refugees abroad since the F-1 student visa is not useful for most of them. In September 2021, Attorney Berger contributed to a briefing for community colleges in California on how to support Afghan students and evacuees, and in October 2021 teamed with the Assistant Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on a webinar for research institutions.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Afghan people as they navigate the tremendous uncertainty and fear of what is to come.
last updated October 20, 2021