Schiff Hardin Launches Task Force Melmastya to Provide Legal Pathways for Afghan Evacuees
Schiff Hardin LLP is proud to announce the firm’s support for Task Force Melmastya, a national pro bono initiative started by Schiff Partner and Army Green Beret Mir Ali, to provide free legal assistance to Afghans trying to escape to the United States.
In partnership with Pars Equality Center, a nonprofit organization that has successfully immigrated Afghans to the United States for more than a decade, the Task Force is enlisting attorney volunteers to urgently prepare humanitarian parole applications, special immigrant visa (SIV), and family-based petitions for Afghans who cannot afford U.S. attorneys.
Since Task Force Melmastya was formed on September 1, more than 1,000 attorneys and other legal professionals nationwide have volunteered their services. These numbers continue to grow daily.
“During my two combat deployments to Afghanistan, I routinely experienced Melmastya, one principle of an ancient tribal code—Pashtunwali—that translates to hospitality and requires a tribe to open their doors to visitors, being practiced in villages throughout the country,” said Mir Ali, a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran and Schiff Hardin Litigation partner who founded the Task Force. “It is inspiring to see how quickly Schiff Hardin’s leadership supported this initiative and the many lawyers around the country who have joined this mission to help one Afghan client at a time.”
Pars, along with other non-profit organizations, is conducting attorney training sessions on how to file humanitarian and SIV applications as well as creating relevant know your rights materials . Task Force Melmastya is also recruiting sponsors for individuals seeking humanitarian parole or family-based sponsorship, and corporate or individual donors to financially support these efforts.
“With more than 7,000 individuals in crisis waiting for legal help to flee Afghanistan, where conditions on the ground grow more tenuous each day, we have already matched over 5,000 individuals with attorneys and volunteers around the nation,” said Sima Alizadeh, senior immigration attorney who manages the Pars Afghan Support Project. “Task Force Melmastya is our largest volunteer partner, and we continue to collectively work together to raise funds for filling fees and support legal efforts to help evacuate those in great need.”
Task Force Melmastya completed its initial volunteer attorney training on September 8 and has already shifted from the training phase to the execution phase of completing applications on behalf of Afghan nationals in crisis.
Learn more about Task Force Melmastya.