Iowa organizations partner to give legal assistance to Afghans

The University of Iowa College of Law’s Center for Human Rights is partnering with Drake University and Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice (Iowa MMJ) to create Afghan Legal League of Iowa (ALL Iowa), a coalition that will provide legal assistance to Afghan nationals in the state.

Through $1,115,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over two years, ALL Iowa will help Afghan immigrants that came to the United States as part of Operation Allies Welcome. In August 2021, the U.S. airlifted thousands of Afghans fleeing the Taliban. More than 1,000 Afghan citizens arrived in Iowa under temporary status.

“Many people do not realize that our evacuated Afghan allies have no direct path to permanent protection in the U.S., making high-quality low-cost legal immigration services of utmost importance,” said Ann Naffier, managing attorney and co-legal director at Iowa MMJ, in a statement. “This funding will increase access to these much-needed services throughout Iowa.”

According to a press release, the UI College of Law Legal Clinic will represent Afghans, as well as expand clinics in communities around the state. They will help the immigrants file applications like Temporary Protected Status, Special Immigrant Visas, and asylum.

“[The partnership] will address urgent needs and enhance and elevate the vital work of our law school clinics,” said Amy Weismann, assistant director for the UI Center for Human Rights. She said UI and Drake University students will participate in a “legal corps.”

UI students will benefit from representing immigrants before federal agencies, as well as aid in the development of pro se materials, intake processes and needs assessments, and more.

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