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The Clock is Ticking: Afghan Arrivals Have One Year to Apply for Asylum

Michigan’s network of immigration legal service providers face unprecedented need

YPSILANTI, MI, Oct. 28, 2021: Michigan is expected to welcome more than 1,300 evacuees from Afghanistan, beginning now and through the next calendar year.

Like all refugees, those arriving from Afghanistan have faced incredible trauma and hardship, but unlike other refugees, many Afghans are arriving in the U.S. with only a temporary legal immigration status.  This means that the majority of Afghan arrivals coming to Michigan will face the legally and procedurally complex process of applying for asylum in the United States in order to gain a permanent legal status and eventual citizenship. They have one year from the date of their arrival to file an asylum application before losing what could be their only chance at permanent status.

The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) and partner organizations in our state’s network of immigration legal service providers remain highly concerned about the limited free and low-cost legal services available to all asylum seekers, including those arriving from Afghanistan.  

“The law requiring this process is unreasonable and needs to change, but barring that, we need help from the public and private sector.  An asylum application is an English-only 12-page form that comes with 14 pages of single-spaced instructions.  A mistake like failing to check a box or a mistake about a fact can result in denial and, in some cases, a finding barring the applicant from ever gaining any form of legal status in the United States,” said MIRC Managing Attorney Susan E. Reed.  “Every applicant needs legal assistance to have a fair chance in this process and we simply do not currently have the capacity among nonprofit service providers in Michigan to meet the need.”

MIRC and partner organizations are actively raising resources and recruiting volunteer lawyers and interpreters to try to meet the legal service needs of Afghan and other asylum seekers, but major intervention from civil society and the philanthropic sector is required to keep this critical need from becoming an unsolvable problem for those affected.

Michigan has a strong history of welcoming newcomers and with additional resources legal service providers can meet this challenge, as well. Immigrants seeking assistance with their asylum application or other immigration legal service questions can call MIRC at (734) 239-6863. Donations to support MIRC’s work can be made at https://michiganimmigrant.org/donate.



Copyright © 1989 to 2021 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/02/21 20:09:27 -0800.





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