FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2022
IN NEW COURT FILING, BIDEN ADMINISTRATION MOVES TO ABANDON ITS OBLIGATIONS TO AFGHAN AND IRAQI SIV APPLICANTS
(New York, NY) – Yesterday, the Biden administration filed a motion in Afghan & Iraqi Allies v. Blinken (“Allies”) asking to be relieved of a court-ordered plan for promptly adjudicating long-pending Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications from Afghans and Iraqis who assisted the United States. Coming in the aftermath of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which left U.S.-affiliated Afghans at increased risk of being harmed by the Taliban, this move represents yet another blow to American allies who are running out of options to protect themselves and their families.
Allies is a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of Afghans and Iraqis who are seeking visas to the United States based on their contributions to the U.S. missions in their home countries, but whose applications have been long delayed. In 2020, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP, and ordered the government to submit a plan to promptly adjudicate the delayed applications. Yet, two years later, thousands of those same applications are still pending.
The following is a statement from Katie Austin, Senior Staff Attorney in IRAP’s Litigation department:
“In the face of continuing mismanagement and persistent delays, and at a time of waning public attention, the Biden administration is trying to get out of its court-ordered obligations to promptly process the applications of thousands of Afghan and Iraqi SIV applicants who are still waiting for their safe passage to the United States.
The U.S. obligation to those who assisted U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, written into law by Congress with strong bipartisan support, has not changed. Nor has the need for an efficient pathway to safety diminished in the aftermath of the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. There must be more accountability – not less – to ensure that the United States lives up to the promises that it made to those it left behind.”
- Read the parties’ most recent joint status update to the Court HERE
- Read the government’s motion HERE
- Read more about IRAP’s SIV class action challenge HERE
- Read a summary of government data showing the egregious delays in processing the SIV applications HERE
The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) develops and enforces a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons. Mobilizing direct legal aid, litigation, and systemic advocacy, IRAP serves the world’s most persecuted individuals and empowers the next generation of human rights leaders.