Manatt Obtains Asylum for Decorated Afghan Ally and Family

A Manatt pro bono team successfully secured asylum for a decorated Afghan ally and his family members who were evacuated from the country after the Taliban took over in 2021. 

Referred to as SA, the client served with the National Mine Reduction Group (NMRG) in Afghanistan beginning in 2013. This group was responsible for identifying and disabling improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were targeted at U.S. troops and their allies. In his role with the NMRG, SA worked directly with U.S. Special Forces members and accompanied them on numerous operations against the Taliban. During the course of this work, SA was shot by the Taliban while pulling a wounded U.S. service member back to safety. He received repeated commendations from the U.S. Special Forces during his years of service and in a letter recommending the client for a special immigrant visa, his U.S. Army supervisor noted that SA’s devotion to duty as a counter-IED expert had undoubtedly saved numerous U.S. service member lives.

 SA, his wife, his two young children and his teen-age brother RA were taken to the United States in August 2021 as part of the humanitarian evacuation of Afghan citizens dubbed Operation Allies Refuge. During his asylum interviews with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, SA described his experiences working with U.S. Special Forces and his fear of returning to Afghanistan where he would be tortured or killed due to his work with the U.S. military. Manatt assisted SA and his family throughout the asylum process, including drafting his declaration, preparing his asylum application, collecting supporting documentation and representing him in his asylum interview. Manatt also separately represented RA in his asylum application, which was based on his fear of returning to Afghanistan due to his association with his brother as a member of the NMRG.

These cases were referred to Manatt by pro bono partner HIAS. The Manatt team representing SA and RA included Helen Pfister, Alexandra McCown and Sirena Castillo.



pursuant to New York DR 2-101(f)

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