Chicago-Area Advocates Race to Help People Flee Afghanistan

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A group of teen girls considered "inspirational leaders" in Afghanistan is desperately trying to escape the country after the Taliban takeover.

However, the teens need safe passage to the airport in Kabul, according to a Chicago resident who is pleading for the U.S. government to help.

“These girls are already known leaders in their neighborhood. Their names are known. Their families are in danger,” said Sara Lavery, a volunteer for the non-profit Ascend Athletics.

The U.S.-based Ascend Athletics trains teen girls in Afghanistan to climb mountains.

Lavery said some of the girls have submitted visa applications that have yet to be approved and others do not have visas.

“They would love to come to the United States, but they would love to be free,” Lavery said. “They would love to be liberated.”

Meanwhile, immigration attorneys in the US are working non-stop trying to help people in Afghanistan clear bureaucratic hurdles to board planes departing from Kabul.

“These are people who have pending applications or approved applications that by any stretch of the imagination or any other circumstance would be allowed to board a plane and come to the United States without any issue,” said attorney Farrah Qazi.

Qazi is a lawyer based in west suburban Warrenville.  As of Friday, she said she has helped about 35 people exit Afghanistan.

“I have right now at last count about 250 open cases as well as 5,000 people on a list waiting for me to help them,” Qazi said.

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