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Special Projects

afghan asylum project: one year later

In August 2021, as a result of the crisis in Afghanistan, thousands of Afghan citizens began arriving in the United States, with urgent needs for legal and social services as they sought to rebuild their lives. We launched our Afghan Asylum Project, shortly after with the goal of supporting as many refugees as possible with their asylum cases and providing access to health care, food, shelter, and the other basics they would need right away.

In this project’s first year, we:

  • Answered nearly 300 calls to our toll-free helpline for information and referrals, including more than 70 from monolingual speakers of Dari or Pashto.
  • Served more than 200 asylum seekers with a total of 207 legal cases and 25 social services cases for clients in 41 cities across 18 states.
  • Won three asylum cases on behalf of Afghan clients, with incredible support from Kirkland & Ellis partners Caitlin Mandel and Raya Treiser and associates Anna Grilley and Muhammad Zayd Mustafa and Arnold & Porter attorneys Robert Conrad, Krysti Papadopoulos, and Maja Zerjal Fink, and Goodwin & Procter, LLP attorneys Collete Goodman, Eliza Chute, and Tiffany Li.
  • Mentored approximately 500 pro bono attorneys so they can better assist survivors.
  • Collaborated with the Asian University for Women (AUW), Mayer Brown, American University, and at least 15 law firms to support 146 Afghan women students at AUW who had been studying remotely in Afghanistan.
  • Traveled to military bases around the country to meet with Afghan women and other refugees to offer support and information about their rights as asylum seekers.
  • Partnered with Human Rights First and Women for Afghan Women to deliver a training on gender-based asylum and trauma-informed practices to more than 100 attorneys and service providers working with Afghan asylum seekers.
Woman in urban setting smiling and wearing head scarf
Photo of 3 women collaborating at a table. The woman at the focal point of the image is wearing a head scarf and writing on a piece of paper at the center of the 3 women.

Photo by Eye for Ebony / Unsplash

pro bono network

Our Pro Bono Network includes thousands of attorneys who generously share their time and expertise to help survivors find justice and safety. Nearly all of Tahirih’s clients live below the poverty line and cannot afford to hire a lawyer to support their claims for asylum or visa applications, so the free legal counsel and representation we can offer is essential for survivors to rebuild their lives. In 2021, for instance, our free legal services meant clients saved an average of $48,000 in legal fees.

In 2022, our Pro Bono Network:

  • Included 2,887 individual pro bono attorneys from 429 firms and corporations.
  • Helped counsel over 850 cases, with engagement from 1,295 pro bono attorneys.

Special Thanks to the Top Five Pro Bono Firms Supporting the Most Tahirih Cases in 2022:

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP

Hogan Lovells LLP

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Mayer Brown LLP

Working to help this family stay together and safe from harm motivates me, and even the smallest victories in our case are meaningful. Watching our client’s face as she learns of our latest victory transcends the language barrier.

Mareasa Rooks, King and Spalding LLP