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Press Release: IRAP Files Challenge on Behalf of U.S.-Affiliated Afghan Wrongfully Blocked From Visa Program After Insurgents Kidnapped His Supervisor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

June 30, 2021


Henrike Dessaules


(Washington, D.C.) – Last week, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) filed a lawsuit on behalf of an Afghan civil engineer, “John Doe,” who worked in support of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan for many years at great personal risk. When he became a target of the Taliban and other insurgents because of that work, he applied for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, a pathway to safety in the United States for Afghans who worked with the U.S. government. The lawsuit challenges the decisions that led to the wrongful denial of Mr. Doe’s application and have left Mr. Doe and his family to face continuing threats of retaliation because of their association with the United States. 

Mr. Doe filed his application in 2016, submitting the required documentation, including a supporting letter from his supervisor Mark Randall Frerichs, a U.S. citizen and Navy veteran. In 2018, the government recognized that Mr. Doe met the eligibility requirements and authorized him and his family to proceed to subsequent stages of the application process. But in 2020, after Mr. Frerichs was tragically kidnapped in Afghanistan by insurgents, the government abruptly changed course. Even though Mr. Doe and his family were now in the final stages of the application process and the government had already confirmed the authenticity of the letter with Mr. Frerichs, the government revoked the initial authorization, claiming that the letter was now invalid because they could not reverify it with Mr. Frerichs, who remains captive.  

Mr. Doe’s lawsuit alleges that the revocation decision and policies on which it was based violate the Administrative Procedure Act and the Afghan Allies Protection Act.

Katie Austin, Litigation Staff Attorney at IRAP, said: “Our client’s story is emblematic of the problems with the SIV program, which is plagued not only by delays but also by faulty decision-making that can be the difference between life and death. The government must stop arbitrarily denying applications. Mr. Doe’s life has been upended by his service to the United States; the least our government could do is decide his application in a lawful manner. Now more than ever, it is critical for U.S. officials to afford our Afghan allies the protections that Congress intended.”

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

To view the complaint, click here.