JFCS East Bay Dispels Misinformation, Hosts Legal Information Session for Afghan Parolees

By JFCS East Bay

Misinformation about immigration status and legal options has caused a tremendous amount of anxiety and uncertainty among new Afghan arrivals.

In response, JFCS East Bay organized a Legal Information Session for Afghan Parolees in the U.S. This event took place on July 15 at Noor Islamic & Cultural Community Center (NICCC) in Concord, CA. We offer gratitude to Dr. Popal, who was gracious enough to allow us to use the mosque space for the event. NICCC also publicized the to their congregants for weeks leading up to the event, and they arranged a recording of the event for people who weren’t able to attend. Thanks to our partnership with the mosque, we were able to reach many more people than we otherwise would have.

About 150 people attended the event, including ten staff members from JFCS East Bay. The information session was designed to be as accessible as possible; speakers were translated into two languages (Dari and Pashto), and childcare was offered onsite. JFCS East Bay was glad to fund catering by Zalla Kabob House, which NICCC was kind enough to order, arrange, and clean up afterwards.

The information session covered legal options for Afghans, with a special focus on dispelling misinformation regarding exceptions to the one-year filing deadline for asylum. Some clients who were concerned about the upcoming deadline were relieved to find they had more time to complete their application.

“We answered questions to help people understand their legal options and to make sure they were aware of updates to the law. We wanted to dispel rumors and to provide resources and referrals,” said Kyra Lilien, Director of Immigration Legal Services at JFCS East Bay. A question-and-answer session at the end of the event allowed clients to get a more personal update.

“I think the information provided during this event allowed for some of our clients to be at ease,” observed Fara Safa, a JFCS East Bay Case Manager. “I was very proud of our team for pulling off such a big event. It feels good to be part of an agency that considers the needs of its clients and goes out of the way to provide some sense of relief during such challenging times for our clients, especially Afghan clients. It was a beautiful sight to see our clients come together after the event and share a meal with their community.”

Because of the success of this event, there are tentative plans to hold similar events in the future, with hopes for hosting such events on a monthly basis. The event was hosted by the JFCS East Bay Immigration Department in partnership with the JFCS East Bay Resettlement Team. Special thanks to everyone who put time into planning and logistics. Our collaboration with Noor Islamic center will continue. Dr. Popal and the NICCC board members have kindly offered their venue for future events such as Jobfarir, ESL classes, Culture Oratitonan, educational classes, and more.