A Victory: Humanitarian Paroles for Afghan Refugees
December 20, 2023
Shortly after Kabul fell to the Taliban in August of 2021, our firm took on pro bono the humanitarian parole applications for a family of five living in Afghanistan. One of the adult sons of the family had worked in conjunction with the United States government and for that work he was killed by the Taliban.Then, the Taliban came after the father for interrogation and torture.The family went into hiding. They needed to get to safety as quickly as possible.
Initially, it seemed as if the United States government would ease the path for those fleeing—particularly those allied with the U.S. operations in Afghanistan to enter the United States with the humanitarian parole. Our firm worked with a United States citizen sponsor who had known this family growing up in Afghanistan, long before she immigrated to the U.S. We put together as many supporting documents as we could quickly as well as detailed statements about what they had suffered, their fear and their dangerous situation. We filed. And then we waited. And waited.
What was clearly so urgent was not a U.S. priority. The only communication we had was the receipts. We recommended that the sponsor work with a Congressional Representative to try to speed up the process. Nothing happened.
We heard that the U.S. was only entertaining these applications from those who were outside Afghanistan, presumably because they would be more likely to be able to process through a United States consulate since the one in Afghanistan was shuttered. We let the sponsor know this, she told the family and when they had fled their country, we provided the U.S. government with their new address.
And still, we waited. We sent inquiries which became increasingly pointed given that the inaction of the U.S. government was unconscionable given the life and death urgency of their situation. We heard that almost no applications were being processed and that those that were being denied.
And then, this week, we received five approvals in the mail. Euphoria!!! More than two years after filing we have the possibility of getting this family to the United States where we hope they may have a better, safer life. Even more surprising, in the same week we received an email from the U.S. consulate abroad about the forms, documents and timeline needed for processing the travel documents – surprising government efficiency!
We will certainly still face some hurdles as they may not have or be able to get some of the documents that the U.S. government is requesting. That’s where we come in again to guide and advocate for them until they are here.