Week 4

This week I have been continuing my research and have almost finished my research on the EU region. This week, we had a big zoom meeting with the entire Afghanistan Response Project team to discuss the things we are working on, the progress we have made, and what our plan is moving forward. The meeting opened with the ABA president giving some opening remarks. He thanked the members of the project for their hard work and reiterated what an important project this is. It was inspiring to see the president of the ABA speak so positively about a project I have been working on. The director of policy and pro bono in the ABA commission on immigration spoke on some of the things going on with the Afghan refugee’s situation in the U.S. In particular she spoke on the recent TRIG exceptions announced by the DHS and DOS on June 14th and how this may pan out in practice. 

This could be a big deal for Afghan refugees looking to move to the U.S. TRIG stands for Terrorism-Related Inadmissibility Grounds. 8 U.S. Code § 1182 gives several grounds for inadmissibility for aliens to enter the U.S. and states that anyone who has engaged or engages in terrorism-related activity. While this sounds good in theory, it is overly broad and ends up penalizing Afghans who are not the danger to national security that TRIG was meant to prevent. These exceptions to TRIG will apply to people who supported U.S. military interests in the country, people who were civil servants like teachers or postal workers, and people who provided insignificant material to a terrorist organization such as paying a fee to pass through a checkpoint or obtain a passport. Hopefully, this will allow more Afghan refugees to be accepted in the U.S. 

Another portion of the meeting focused on the Afghan Professionals Resettlement Pilot Program. This program focuses on an area of resettlement that is extremely important: helping legal professionals find meaningful work in the U.S. legal system. The program is especially focusing on women judges who are at heightened risk. The program is working on matching these professionals with law schools so they can receive their LLMs and find meaningful work here. It is so fascinating to hear about all the aspects of this project and all of the good work people are doing. A lot of asylum and refugee aid work can be frustrating and discouraging but getting to attend this meeting was a great reminder of all the positive results that can be achieved. 

The project I’m working on is part of the Afghan Evacuee Project. The first person to speak on what we’ve been working on was the pro bono attorney who is working with the ABA on this project, she’s also the one who started the research project I’m currently working on. She works directly with Afghan refugees seeking resettlement; listening to her speak I feel tremendously inspired, it’s clear how much of an expert she is on this topic and how much she cares about her work. She spoke about some of the legal hangups that refugees are dealing with in the U.S. which I found very fascinating. My supervisor also asked me to speak on the research project I’m working on and go through some of the things I’ve found. I honestly was terrified to speak in front of so many smart, accomplished, and important people but I am so thankful for the opportunity. 

All-in-all it was so great to get a chance to hear about the other parts of the project I’m working on. It was extremely inspiring and encouraging. It makes me even more excited to be able to contribute to such a great project.