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Arnold & Porter, Partner Organizations Guide Afghan Refugees Seeking Safety from Taliban

May 29, 2024

Since the Taliban's August 2021 takeover of Afghanistan, Arnold & Porter has engaged in a significant collaborative campaign to assist Afghan refugees in securing asylum and safety in the United States.

The ongoing initiative has helped many individuals from diverse backgrounds and their families who face life-threatening risks in Afghanistan due to a wide range of factors, such as their professions and social justice efforts. These include advocates for human rights and women's equality, journalists, attorneys defending victims of domestic violence, filmmakers pioneering modern narratives, those with medical vulnerabilities, and more — all of whom exemplify courage against extreme adversity.

Arnold & Porter’s essential partnerships with organizations such as Tahirih Justice Center, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (New York Times Afghan Asylum Project), Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Save the Children, New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and others continue to bolster this project.

“Our clients fled their homes and their country following substantial threats to themselves and their families. These threats often followed efforts by our clients to promote social justice, including women’s rights, access to education, and freedom of the press. We are honored to assist our clients as they start a new chapter of their lives in the United States,” said Daniel Cantor, chair of the Arnold & Porter Pro Bono Committee.

Thus far, over 80 attorneys from Arnold & Porter have collectively dedicated thousands of pro bono hours, underscoring the firm’s commitment to human rights through extensive cross-practice collaboration, mentorship, and effective information management. This dedication spans all levels of the firm—from new associates to active and retired partners across the country—highlighting a unified effort in supporting humanitarian causes.

Afghan Immigration Efforts

To date, Arnold & Porter has represented more than 90 Afghans in connection with immigration matters. Navigating the complex and demanding asylum process for those targeted by the Taliban is a central task of the initiative and has been the focus of Arnold & Porter’s efforts on behalf of those seeking protection.

The asylum process encompasses many steps and hundreds of pages of documents for each client, including the application, client declaration, supporting evidence, country conditions research, legal briefs, and interviews or hearings.

Arnold & Porter also assists in securing humanitarian parole for families urgently needing haven in the U.S., and it works with clients in the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) and P-2 refugee programs, assisting with securing permanent residency and resettlement in the U.S. for Afghans who supported U.S. missions or face persecution. Additionally, the firm files Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Adjustment of Status applications, aiding Afghans in living, working, and eventually gaining permanent residence in the United States.

The firm also has engaged in legislative and policy advocacy in support of federal legislation to establish a pathway to lawful permanent resident status for Afghan evacuees in the United States who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and to improve administrative procedures to enable more efficient processing of asylum applications.

Firmwide Collaboration, Mentorship and Strategy

Arnold & Porter has ensured that its work on these issues has been well-supervised and guided by experts. In addition to partnerships with experts in the various non-profit groups listed above who have served as mentors, the firm has also instituted a mentorship system led by four Firm lawyers with asylum expertise. This internal mentorship group supports the program's success, guiding colleagues, including many new to immigration law, through this challenging and highly technical legal area. The work’s extensive and pressing nature has also benefited from excellent support from legal assistants, translators, and other professional staff.

Using a specialized intranet platform as a central location for documents, training videos and presentations, and immigration resource materials has also been crucial for effectively managing cases and coordinating strategies.

Arnold & Porter’s engagement in the program has both reinforced its focus on immigrant rights and led to a broader firmwide interest in similar advocacy efforts now and in the future. The firm’s commitment to the Afghan refugee campaign and a wide range of other humanitarian and social justice efforts helped it achieve Law360’s second-highest rank for pro bono work in 2023.

About Arnold & Porter

Arnold & Porter combines sophisticated regulatory, litigation, and transactional capabilities to resolve clients’ most complex issues. With over 1,000 lawyers practicing in 15 offices worldwide, we offer deep industry experience and an integrated approach that spans more than 40 practice areas. Through multidisciplinary collaboration and focused industry experience, we provide innovative and effective solutions to mitigate risks, address challenges, and achieve successful outcomes.