Effort underway to help Afghan refugees with legal issues

DES MOINES — Iowa legal organizations are partnering to address the urgent need to secure a more permanent immigration status for Afghan arrivals.

The Afghan Legal League of Iowa will use a federal grant to coordinate support for the around one-thousand Afghans in the state. The University of Iowa’s Center for Human Rights, the Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice and Drake University College of Law’s legal clinic will expand their capacity to take on more cases.

Drake University’s Suzie Pritchett says it’s a resource the state badly needs. “I think the community and networks that it’s going to create are going to benefit non citizens throughout Iowa beyond the length of this two year project,” she says.

Many Afghans came to the U-S as parolees, which only guarantees a legal status for two years. Now, these evacuees need to apply for permanent residency. The project will also help to establish a virtual help desk. Pritchett says it’s a way for unrepresented Afghans from across the state to call in for general legal advice.