“We remain gravely concerned that the United States is abandoning tens of thousands of Afghans to die by cutting off their last available pathway to refuge. The United States has an obligation to keep pathways open for Afghans who have no alternative ways to seek asylum and reunite with family in the United States,” — Juliette Chisam-Majid, Project ANAR.

ANAR is an Afghan-led immigration organization that has connected thousands of Afghans with legal volunteers in order to apply for Humanitarian Parole to the United States. 

 

Two hundred twenty-five organizations have signed a letter raising concerns about the fate of thousands of Afghans who remain trapped in Afghanistan, and have applied for humanitarian protections with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The organizations fear mass denials of applications, leaving tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghans at risk under deadly Taliban rule. The letter, led by Project ANAR (Afghan Network for Advocacy and Resources), is the second appeal organized by the group to the Biden Administration and members of Congress, and is part of a broader grassroots effort to organize protection for Afghan asylum seekers. 

“As legal service providers, advocates, and members of the Afghan diaspora, we seek not only adjudication of Afghan Humanitarian Parole applications, but the favorable use of the wide discretion that USCIS has to grant parole. Instead, USCIS has laid out a plan that will close the door to tens of thousands of Afghans seeking safety in the United States,” the letter notes. 

The letter notes USCIS standards that many believe are insurmountable, including: 

1) Third party evidence naming the applicant and documenting threats or risks of serious harm, a burden of proof that is not normally part of the humanitarian process, and often impossible to fulfill given the realities on the ground in Afghanistan. 

2) USCIS has arbitrarily heightened the threat standard required for these applications, in contradiction of their own prior Humanitarian Parole Trainings and Guidelines. 

3) Heightened standards produce a potential for mass denials in the absence of alternative pathways. Afghans have turned to Humanitarian Parole because other pathways are inaccessible, backlogged, and insufficient for the urgent needs produced by the Taliban takeover of the country. Advocates have long urged special programs to address the inaccessibility of existing pathways, yet no such plans have been developed by the US government. 

On November 5, 2021, USCIS updated its website with information about processing of Afghan Humanitarian Parole Applications, to state, among other things, that it will prioritize third-country applications and will inform Afghans in country found eligible of parole that they must travel outside of Afghanistan before they can be processed.

“Advocates are concerned by USCIS Humanitarian Parole denials that rely on insurmountable evidentiary standards, and pull the rug out from under tens of thousands of pending applications with no alternative pathways for relief. USCIS has adopted an exclusionary policy toward Afghans that contradicts its own guidance,” said Laila Ayub for Project ANAR. 

A full explanation of these concerns, as well as seven clear recommendations on the issue, are detailed in the Project ANAR letter that you can read here. 

“We remain gravely concerned that the United States is abandoning tens of thousands of Afghans to die by cutting off their last available pathway to refuge. The United States has an obligation to keep pathways open for Afghans who have no alternative ways to seek asylum and reunite with family in the United States,” said Juliette Chisam-Majid for Project ANAR. 

Project ANAR is an Afghan-led immigration organization that has connected thousands of Afghans with legal volunteers in order to apply for Humanitarian Parole to the United States. 

 

A full list of the 225 organizations that have signed the letter, including Maine’s Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP):

 

  1. 13 Lines LLC
  2. AAG
  3. ACCESS of WNY
  4. Afghan American Church
  5. Afghan-American Community Organization (AACO)
  6. Afghan Coalition
  7. Afghan Evacuation and Resettlement Lawyers (AERL)
  8. Afghan Legal Empowerment Portal
  9. Afghan Refugee Relief
  10. Afghan Refugee Relief and Aid of Michigan
  11. Afghan Scout Relief Fund
  12. Afghans For A Better Tomorrow
  13. AK Poku Law, PLLC
  14. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld Pro Bono Practice
  15. Al Otro Lado
  16. Aldea – The People’s Justice Center
  17. American Immigration Council
  18. American Immigration Lawyers Association New England
  19. American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN)
  20. Amnesty International USA
  21. Arizona Justice For Our Neighbors
  22. Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese
  23. ARTogether
  24. Asian Services in Action (ASIA)
  25. Association of Wartime Allies
  26. Azadi Alliance
  27. Berkeley Immigration Group
  28. Berkeley Law Afghanistan Project
  29. Building One Community
  30. Burma Refugee Families & Newcomers
  31. Cal Voices
  32. California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice
  33. Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (CAIR Coalition)
  34. Catholic Charities NY, Immigrant and Refugee Services
  35. Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
  36. Catholic Multicultural Center
  37. Causa Justa :: Just Cause
  38. Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
  39. Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants
  40. Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative
  41. Central Washington Justice For Our Neighbors
  42. Centro Legal de la Raza
  43. Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice
  44. Church World Service
  45. Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
  46. Columbia Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic
  47. Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc.
  48. Community Asylum Seekers Project
  49. Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.
  50. Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
  51. Community Legal Services, McGeorge Law School
  52. Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants
  53. Connecticut Shoreline Indivisible
  54. Corazon Healdsburg
  55. Cornell Law School Afghanistan Assistance Clinic
  56. Council on American-Islamic Relations – Sacramento Valley / Central California
  57. Council on American-Islamic Relations, Washington Chapter (CAIR-WA)
  58. Curran, Berger & Kludt LLP
  59. DaVita Inc.
  60. Development Now Initiatives
  61. Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc.
  62. Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel
  63. Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries
  64. Doctors for Camp Closure
  65. Dolores Street Community Services
  66. East Bay Refugee and Immigrant Forum
  67. Equal Access Legal Services
  68. EVAC (Evacuating Vocal Afghan Citizens)
  69. Fayetteville Justice for Our Neighbors
  70. Fletcher Afghan Evacuation & Resettlement Working Group
  71. Freedom Now
  72. Fresh Start Refugee Assistance Center
  73. Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN)
  74. Grace Church of Evergreen
  75. Hanan Refugees Relief Group
  76. Harvard Afghan Alliance
  77. Hearts & Homes for Refugees
  78. HIAS
  79. HIAS Pennsylvania
  80. Higuera Law
  81. Honor the Promise
  82. Hope Border Institute
  83. Human First Coalition
  84. Human Rights First
  85. Human Rights Initiative of North Texas
  86. Human Rights Watch
  87. Immigrant ARC
  88. Immigrant Defense Advocates
  89. Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project
  90. Immigrant Legal Center
  91. Immigration Attorneys LLP
  92. Immigration Equality
  93. Immigration Hub
  94. Immigration Institute of the Bay Area
  95. Innovation Law Lab
  96. Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI)
  97. International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
  98. International Institute of New England
  99. International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
  100. International Rescue Committee
  101. Japanese American Citizens League
  102. Jewish Family & Community Services – East Bay
  103. Just Neighbors Ministry
  104. Justice Action Center
  105. Justice for Our Neighbors El Paso
  106. Justice for Our Neighbors Michigan
  107. Kehilla Community Synagogue
  108. Khanbabai Immigration Law
  109. Kurdish Alliance of North America
  110. La Raza Community Resource Center
  111. Latin Advocacy Network (LATINAN)
  112. Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
  113. Law Office of Ban Al-Wardi
  114. Law Office of Helen Lawrence
  115. Law Office of J. Lance Conklin
  116. Law Office of Jennifer L. Hennessey
  117. Law Office of Parastoo G Zahedi Esquire
  118. Law Office of Patavee Vanadilok, P.C.
  119. Law Office of Renee C. Redman LLC
  120. Law Office of Spojmie Nasiri, PC
  121. Leadership Conference of Women Religious
  122. Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition
  123. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  124. Maine Immigrants Rights Coalition
  125. Mainers for Accountable Leadership Action
  126. MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network)
  127. MH Global Immigration & Mobility Consulting
  128. Miami Valley Immigration Coalition
  129. Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC)
  130. Migrant Center for Human Rights
  131. National Immigrant Justice Center
  132. National Immigration Forum
  133. National Immigration Law Center
  134. National Iranian American Council
  135. National Justice for Our Neighbors
  136. National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  137. New American Pathways
  138. New England Justice for Our Neighbors
  139. New York Conference UMC Board of Church and Society
  140. New York Immigration Coalition
  141. New York Legal Assistance Group
  142. Nilsen Immigration Law
  143. NorCal Resist
  144. North Bay Rapid Response Network: Solano, Napa and Sonoma Counties
  145. Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  146. NuruZan, Inc.
  147. NYSBA International Section Afghan Task Force
  148. Oasis Legal Services
  149. Open Door Legal
  150. Open Immigration Legal Services
  151. Operation Freedom Birds
  152. Operation North Star
  153. Operation Recovery
  154. Operation Sacred Promise
  155. Oxfam America
  156. Pangea Legal Services
  157. Pars Equality Center
  158. Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA)
  159. Parwana’s People
  160. Pilgrim Congregational UCC
  161. Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration
  162. Prime Counsel, PLLC
  163. Public Counsel
  164. Race Matters, First Congregational UCC
  165. Rainbow Beginnings
  166. Refugee & Immigrant Assistance Center
  167. Refugee & Immigrant Transitions
  168. Refugee Congress
  169. Refugee Council USA
  170. Refugee Empowerment Center
  171. Refugee Empowerment Program
  172. Refugee Solidarity Network
  173. Refugees International
  174. Reinaert LLC
  175. Rian Immigrant Center
  176. San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network
  177. San Joaquin College of Law – New American Legal Clinic
  178. SB County Immigrant Legal Defense Center
  179. Services, Immigrant Rights And Education Network (SIREN)
  180. Sikh Coalition
  181. Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team
  182. SLC Consulting, Inc.
  183. Society For The Advancement of Judaism
  184. Sound Central
  185. South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
  186. South Asian Bar Association Chicago
  187. Street Level Health Project
  188. Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice
  189. T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
  190. Tahirih Justice Center
  191. Talent Beyond Boundaries
  192. Tarjoman Relief
  193. Task Force Antal
  194. Team America Relief
  195. Team Hope/Enduring Hope Alliance
  196. Team Spirit
  197. The Afghan-American Foundation
  198. The Lamia Afghan Foundation
  199. Truman-Veritas Afghan Alliance
  200. US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
  201. U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  202. UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic
  203. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  204. University of San Francisco Immigration & Deportation Defense Clinic
  205. UnLocal
  206. USC Law International Human Rights Clinic
  207. Ustun Law International, PLLC
  208. Van Der Hout LLP
  209. VECINA
  210. Veteran Esquire Legal Solutions, PLLC
  211. Veterans for American Ideals
  212. Victoria L. Block Law
  213. Viets For Afghans
  214. Welcoming Alliance for Refugee Ministry (WARM)
  215. Werner-Kohnstamm Family Giving Fund
  216. Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration
  217. Western New York Peace Center
  218. Win Without War
  219. Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center
  220. With Honor
  221. Women for Afghan Women Organization
  222. World Education Services
  223. World Relief
  224. WOW Explorations
  225. #AfghanEvac