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Volunteer lawyers needed to help Afghans in CNY with asylum claims

The Department of Defense is committed to supporting the U.S. State Department in the departure of U.S. and allied civilian personnel from Afghanistan, and to evacuate Afghan allies safely.
Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Cribelar

Local organizations who support Afghan refugees that arrived in Central New York following the U.S.-led evacuation of Afghanistan last summer said they need a lot of help from the legal community. This Thursday, attorneys will offer a free virtual training that will assist other attorneys of all specialties, paralegals, law students and interpreters on how to help the refugees file for asylum. The executive director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY, Sally Fisher Curran said it takes around 50 to 100 hours to process individual cases.

“We’re looking to help the folks who have arrived and who are still arriving.  Many of these Afghans have suffered extreme trauma and they fear for the lives of the spouses, children and parents they’ve had to leave behind during the chaotic takeover by the Taliban.”  

Very few families were able to travel together, so mostly everyone who arrived has been separated from loved ones including single mothers and fathers and children who arrived without their parents. Catherine Holmes from Catholic Charities is the director of post-refugee resettlement services. She said they assist Afghans trying to locate their loved ones to bring them to safety to the U.S. and sometimes it is tragic news.

“The person here in the United States who applied for her father who was overseas in Afghanistan came to report that he too had been killed by the Taliban after we submitted this humanitarian parole for him.”  

The immigration volunteer training will also involve nearly 100 Syracuse University law students who will be paired with local attorneys to work on the Afghan refugee cases as they file for asylum. The free virtual training for Pro Bono Legal Representation for Afghan Evacuees is on Feb. 17 from noon to 1 p.m. Click here to register.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.