Schiff Hardin Lawyers Featured on Leading Legal Aid Efforts to Relocate Afghans to the United States

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Schiff Partner and Green Beret Mir Ali was featured on his leadership efforts to enlist attorneys around the country to provide free legal aid to Afghans trying to relocate to the United States.

Mir came up with the idea to start Task Force Melmastya, a national initiative to provide pro bono legal aid to Afghan evacuees, after an Afghan national who had worked with Ali’s team overseas, asked for legal assistance to help get his family out of the country.

“And of course, the answer was yes,” Mir said, “So I immediately thought, this is going to be a much larger need.”

After serving two combat deployments in Afghanistan, Mir said his time fighting alongside the Afghans was a source of inspiration for founding the task force.

“These are the people that fought alongside us in combat. We put our lives in their hands, they put their lives in our hands, and that’s no exaggeration by any means,” he said.

Mir has recruited more than 900 volunteer lawyers, including many at Schiff Hardin, to collect information for appropriate visa applications and sponsorship opportunities.

“There’s a feeling of powerlessness that you have seen a crisis unfold like you see in Afghanistan right now, all the way across the world,” said Jonathan Dean, a Schiff associate who joined the task force. “And just watching it unfold and not being able to really do anything about it. So then to be offered the opportunity to do something about it is empowering.”

Task Force Melmastya has partnered with Pars Equality Center, a nonprofit organization that has successfully immigrated Afghans to the United States for more than a decade. Mir has personally referred at least six Afghans, who previously worked for the U.S. government and are currently in the United States, to the task force, which is helping to extract their family members from overseas.

“This is a humanitarian crisis,” Mir said. “The people who are trying to flee Afghanistan, they certainly don’t have any U.S. income to cover these fees. … A lot of them are below the poverty line, so I think it’s critical that we provide our services pro bono.”

Anyone interested in learning about how they can assist in the nationwide effort to support Afghan evacuees can register for Task Force Melmastya’s free webinar at 7:00 P.M. CDT this Wednesday 9/22 using this link.

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