Over the last year, student attorneys with the Drake Refugee Clinic helped numerous Afghan nationals navigate the complexities of the immigration process through the Clinic’s collaboration with the Afghan Legal League of Iowa (ALL Iowa).* They provided direct representation before immigration agencies, and helped develop pro se materials, intake processes, and conducted needs assessments to serve as many Afghan evacuees as possible.

“Students worked through some very challenging situations and developed strong cases for their clients,” said Refugee Clinic Director Allison McCarthy. “I think it’s especially impactful for this group of students. They grew up with Afghanistan in the news. Now they are learning first-hand about the challenges many Afghans faced in their home country.”

The Refugee Clinic recently hired Samiullah “Sami” Khan to provide translation and interpretation support for the Clinic and Clinic partners. Sami plays a key role by providing Dari and Pashto interpretation and translation for Afghan clients and supports student attorneys so they can get the best possible outcomes for their clients. He also talks with students about cross-cultural competency and working with individuals from Afghanistan, providing unique insights they would not get anywhere else.

As asylum requests are granted and students see the results of their hard work, the Clinic’s focus is shifting to help Afghans in the United States apply for permanent resident status and to reunite with their family members who remain in Afghanistan. Because of logistical and procedural hurdles, there is still a great deal of policy and advocacy work to do on behalf of separated families – and the Refugee Clinic student attorneys are ready to take on this next phase. “The Clinic’s work with the Afghan evacuees is ongoing and evolving,” said McCarthy.  “Our student attorneys are prepared to address the new needs and challenges and continue their positive impact on the Afghan community.”

* ALL Iowa is a collaboration between the University of Iowa College of Law Legal Clinic and Center for Human Rights, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, and the Drake Refugee Clinic established to provide critical immigration legal services to Afghans in Iowa. Funding for the project is provided by the Iowa Bureau for Refugee Services.