How To Help Afghan Refugees And Asylum Seekers

Months after the war in Afghanistan was officially ended by the Biden Administration, the foreign country is still in chaos. The Taliban say they have a policy of non-retaliation, but reports say that many sympathizers and individuals who aided America have been hunted and killed. Now, thousands of Afghans are still fighting for safe passage into America — only to hit a brick wall. 

According to Rob Thelen, who volunteers with Team America Relief, these refugees and asylum seekers are simply the first wave. We could see generations of Afghans who wish to leave the country. Thelen said, “This is not going away, this is going to be with us for generations.”

Before Team America Relief was even underway, Americans who wanted to help Afghans leave the country created an email account to acquire more information about their plight. According to Thelen, “The Gmail address started to get bounced back and forth in Afghanistan and we were getting thousands of emails per hour from people trying to get help. Some were translators, some were women lawyers, and some were former employees.”

Since Team America Relief was put into place, the group has supported the departure of over 500 people. 

Unfortunately, tens of thousands are seeking legal immigration into the United States — and the intake is painfully slow. Of the 28,000 applications for humanitarian parole, only 135 have been approved so far. 

But it’s not just about helping these individuals and families leave the country. It’s about helping them in a way that protects their personal data from outsiders who might want to know what they’re up to — like the Taliban.

What Team America Relief really needs is pro bono legal expertise. 

Thelen offered, “If a law firm wants to do 400 pro bono cases, we can give them a list and if that list changes, it’s updated automatically. If the FBI wants to run preemptive background checks, we can give them a view too.”