Like all of us, CBK has been shocked by the sudden events in Afghanistan, and inspired by those who are helping, from soldiers at the Kabul airport who kept their posts in spire of terrorist threats to refugee agencies here racing to welcome and support tens of thousands of Afghans evacuated. We were also surprised by the range of connections made between the Afghan and American people over the past 20 years – we have been getting calls from a large number of people in the US who had a direct connection to 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 in particular. 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 resettlement agency to see about helping Afghans in your area. And support 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 frankly, we only succeeded in a small percent 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 in Afghanistan, who have reached third countries, and in the United States. 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 have one staff member detailed now full-time to volunteer at one of the airports where Afghans are arriving. We are also involved in fundraising for filing fees.
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. 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.
4. Advising colleges, universities and nonprofits on strategies to support Afghans during this crisis, and longer term. Dan is speaking to university administrators on September 9, and has been supporting pathways for students who are refugees abroad since the F-1 student visa is not useful for most of them.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Afghan people as they navigate the tremendous uncertainty and fear of what is to come.