Miami attorneys Giselle Sardinas and Leonela Vaccaro Padron, two volunteers of one of largest pro bono projects in the firm's recent history, successfully aided an Afghan refugee family of six in obtaining their green cards under the special immigrant visa (SIV) program for Afghan allies.
The Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, enacted by Congress, aims to provide permanent status to Afghan individuals who aided the United States armed forces during the war in Afghanistan. (This relief also extends to a spouse and their children.) Moved by other members of his immediate family who proudly assisted the United States government at the commencement of the war, and tired of the country-wide oppression under Taliban rule, Sardinas' and Vaccaro Padron's client served as an interpreter for the United States for twelve years. As part of his service, he participated in numerous life-threatening missions alongside the United States Army to patrol and protect the region from Taliban insurgents, which included intercepting planned terrorist attacks. The Taliban violently retaliated against interpreters and their immediate families, including issuing a "dead on sight" declaration for anyone connected our own client’s military unit. During times of leave, he had to move in silence, mainly at night, and was unable to attend social gatherings for fear of ambush. He said that “[i]t was hard to tell who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.”
With the fall of Kabul following US de-occupation in 2021, threats against Afghan allies of the United States armed forces increased. This client, his wife, and their four children safely evacuated Afghanistan with the assistance of the United States Marine Corp. All six members of the client's family received approval of their permanent resident application in March 2023.
When asked if he has any regrets for his time assisting the United States government, Sardinas' and Vaccaro Padron's client says that sacrificing his life to save the lives of others and working to end the ignorance of terrorists in his home country will never be a regret for him. In fact, it is the thing he is the proudest of in his life and hopes to continue to work for the United States government in some capacity now that he is state-side.