Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Rights group sues US for denial of humanitarian entry to Afghans

BOSTON ( Associated Press) – Boston civil rights group is challenging the US government’s denial of humanitarian relief For scores of Afghans fleeing the Taliban.

American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts sues in Boston federal court Afghans and their New England-area families on Wednesday sought to bring him to the US through a rare immigration provision known as humanitarian parole.

The organization says its denials left Afghans trapped and at risk of being killed after the Taliban took control of the country last August when US and other foreign forces withdrew at the chaotic end of the 20-year war.

An Afghan plaintiff, who is named only in a pseudonym, applied for humanitarian parole for six family members, killing only three of them while awaiting a decision on their requests, according to the suit.

In its lawsuit, the ACLU cited the experiences of Afghan women who placed Afghans in key positions, working for the US government or the US-backed Afghan government, as well as more restrictive measures by the Taliban.

The Humanitarian Parole Program does not provide a direct path to lawful permanent residence, but those who are eligible can apply for asylum or other immigration relief. The program allows people to temporarily enter the country for “urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons,” according to the USCIS website.

The federal agencies named in the lawsuit, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, did not respond to an email seeking comment on Thursday.

The suit, which the ACLU filed with Boston law firm Mintz, argues that the government promised endangered Afghans they were eligible for humanitarian parole.

The ACLU said immigration officials abruptly stopped processing humanitarian parole requests after thousands of Afghans applied for the program last August and September. Then in November, USCIS imposed stricter standards that resulted in the rejection of most Afghan applications.

The ACLU argues that the changes violated federal regulations and requests that a federal judge order applications to be immediately adjudicated or re-decided under the original standards.

“The government has a responsibility to enforce its laws fairly, effectively and efficiently,” Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said in a statement.

The denial is all the more disappointing that Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion of their homeland in recent months have been given quick relief, said Chiara St. Pierre, an attorney at the Massachusetts-based International Institute of New England, a refugee resettlement agency. Helping Afghans get humanitarian parole but the ACLU is not involved in the trial.

The lawsuit states that the new humanitarian parole process created specifically for Ukrainians is able to process 6,000 applications within its first three weeks – far more than the total number of Afghan humanitarian parole decisions in the nine months since last August. . The Ukrainian program also waives costly application filing fees and allows applications to be completed online without the need for a consulate visit.

“Ukrainians also deserve protection, but the Uniting for Ukraine program” confirms that our government is making a choice about these Afghan applications and letting them go through,” St. Pierre said on Thursday. “The government really has the ability to decide on these matters because They are doing this for Ukrainians and with a special program specially designed for them.”

Nation World News Desk
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