Zuhra Aziz

The Project

Zuhra’s (she/her/hers) project will focus on creating a community-informed response to the legal and social service needs of displaced Afghans in Georgia.

Nearly 80,000 Afghan nationals were evacuated into the United States in August 2021 after the rapid Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Many Afghan arrivals need to pursue asylum and demonstrate a credible fear of persecution by the Taliban to remain safely in the U.S. As such, there is an increased need for asylum attorneys in a state that is already struggling to meet the needs of vulnerable immigrants. This fellowship will complement and expand upon the work of GAIN’s flagship Asylum program to create a community-informed response to the legal and social service needs of displaced Afghans in Georgia.

Zuhra’s upbringing in Clarkston, Georgia, a largely immigrant community, gave her an appreciation for diversity, respect for immigrant families, and motivation to advocate for human rights.

Fellowship Plans

The primary objective of this project is to provide wraparound legal and social services to displaced Afghans who do not qualify for support through the traditional resettlement process. Zuhra will provide legal advocacy and representation for displaced Afghans, with a special focus on women and girls. She will also work to bridge immigrant and refugee-serving agencies to facilitate social service support for recent Afghan arrivals. Additionally, Zuhra will create a peer-to-peer Afghan support network, composed of Afghan community members and friends of Afghans.

My heart aches for the people of Afghanistan, who have endured unimaginable turmoil for decades. As an Afghan American woman, I am honored to serve this community by assisting them in obtaining stability in the United States.

Zuhra Aziz /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Chelsea engages in targeted legal responses to due-to-process violations at the Arizona-Mexico border. She works by offering direct representation and by creating and implementing a volunteer program to support asylum-seekers through the increasingly critical initial interview stage.

Chelsea’s project seeks to increase the ability of migrants fleeing persecution and arriving at the southern Arizona border to access the protection afforded to them under U.S. immigration laws. Because U.S. border policies constrict the grounds on which migrants fleeing persecution can obtain protection in the U.S. and minimize migrants’ opportunities to tell their story, the role of legal service providers along the border is now more pivotal than ever. While access to process (to even requesting asylum) and access to counsel have always been tenuous, recent border policies under the guise of the pandemic have made it nearly impossible for people fleeing persecution to enter the U.S. for access to safety and protection. Chelsea’s project supports the Florence Project’s Border Action Team in providing asylum seekers with accurate, updated information to understand the nuances of the asylum process and current border policies. Chelsea’s project also addresses the various procedural components at the border that frequently operate to deprive migrants of a chance to tell their stories.

Chelsea carries with her the experiences of her grandmother (a Holocaust survivor) and her mother-in-law (a Maya former asylee) as she works to provide similar opportunities for others fleeing persecution.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

During the first year of the Fellowship, Chelsea has:

  • Successfully advocated with the Florence Project’s Border Action Team for over 2,000 asylum seekers to be excepted from the CDC Order under Title 42 (which has kept the border closed since March 2020) and processed into the U.S. by presenting at the Nogales Port of Entry between March-August 2021.
  • Represented a family who was removed in absentia under the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) policy in appealing their case at the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) level.
  • Worked with the Florence Project’s Border Action Team to successfully help two mothers who had just given birth and who were facing family separation from their medically vulnerable U.S. citizen newborns. Prevented them from being expelled back to Mexico under the Title 42 CDC Order, and instead, remain with their newborns in the U.S. and continue their asylum cases.

Next Steps

In the next year, Chelsea plans to:

  • Pursue creative avenues to help asylum seekers stuck at the Arizona-Mexico border access the asylum process in light of restrictive border policies such as, but not limited to, Title 42.
  • Continue local, regional, and national advocacy and continue coalition building.
  • Provide direct representation on at least one asylum merits case.

Media

The Biden administration tries again to end 'Remain in Mexico'

Migrants in Nogales seek entry through exemption as pandemic-era restrictions drag on

Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project Carrillo Family Feature

Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project Chelsea Feature

Without the asylum process, I would not have the loving and remarkable family that I am blessed to have today.

Chelsea Sachau /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow