FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 7, 2021
IRAP FILES LAWSUIT DEMANDING U.S. GOVERNMENT PROTECT AFGHAN ALLY’S CHILDREN FROM TALIBAN
Lawsuit follows failure of U.S. government to respond to emergency petitions for protection filed under the Afghan Allies Protection Act
(San Francisco, CA) – Today, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, demanding U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken fulfill his legal and moral obligation to protect Afghan allies and their families by evacuating them to safety. IRAP filed the lawsuit on behalf of “Mohammad”, an Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicant, and his two minor children. Mohammad now lives in California, but his children remain hiding in Afghanistan under threat from the Taliban.
“Every day, I fear for the lives of my sons. As their father, I am doing everything I can to protect my children, but they won’t be safe until they are reunited with me in California,” said Mohammad, plaintiff in the case. “Right now, my greatest wish is to hug my kids again. I ask that the United States government stand by its promises to Afghans like me who supported the U.S. mission, and protect the lives of my children.”
In August 2021, after the city where his children lived fell to the Taliban, Mohammad submitted an emergency petition for protection to the U.S. Secretary of State asking the U.S. government to evacuate his children to safety. Mohammad followed up on his petition in September 2021, but has yet to receive a response. The U.S. government’s failure to respond to his petition and evacuate his sons from Afghanistan in a timely manner violates its legal obligations under the Afghan Allies Protection Act (AAPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The AAPA directs the Secretary of State to make “reasonable effort[s]” to protect or evacuate SIV applicants and their families who are in “imminent danger” while their SIV applications remain pending.
Today’s lawsuit challenges the U.S. government’s unconscionable delay in responding to Mohammad’s petition and demands concrete action to protect and evacuate his children.
“The United States has a moral and legal obligation to protect Mohammad and his children who are at risk because of his work with the U.S. government,” said Alexandra Zaretsky, IRAP Litigation Fellow. “Tens of thousands of Afghan allies and their families were separated or left behind after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the U.S. government has yet to take meaningful action to help them get to safety.”
Read the filing 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.