Since August 2021, approximately 140 Afghan asylum-seekers were resettled in Western North Carolina, mostly in Buncombe County. They entered the United States under Humanitarian Parole, a temporary, lawful immigration status that expires two years from when they entered the United States. For most of them, asylum is the only path to lawful permanent status, and they must apply within one year of arrival in the U.S.
Pisgah Legal Services is the main provider of free immigration law assistance in the eighteen Western North Carolina counties. Their immigration team of two was stretched thin before the urgent need to assist Afghan asylum-seekers arose.
“Pisgah Legal Services was compelled to take on this project because of the extreme vulnerability of the Afghan evacuees living in our community,” said Jim Barrett, Executive Director. “CFWNC’s quick response to our grant request means that our new Afghan neighbors can secure permanent lawful status from the U.S. government, the safety of a new, permanent home, and the ability to continue to work lawfully to support themselves and their families.”
Pisgah Legal Services expects to complete 40 to 50 complex applications for asylum by leveraging extensive pro bono assistance. The grant and a $10,000 Janirve Sudden and Urgent Need grant awarded earlier this month by CFWNC will cover most of the costs of this project, estimated at $91,671. Funding supports interpretation and translation costs, outreach, audio-visual needs, staff and attorneys, and extensive processing costs for asylum applications.
The Minigowin Fund, Fidel Duke Fund and Rick and Bridget Eckerd Charitable Fund provided co-investment for this grant.