AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA Presents Laila Ayub and Maria Aftab Kari with the 2024 Joseph Minsky Young Lawyer Award

6/3/24 AILA Doc. No. 24060331.
George Tzamaras
Belle Woods


WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recognizes Laila Ayub and Maria Aftab Kari with the 2024 Joseph Minsky Young Lawyer Award for their outstanding contributions made as young lawyers in the field of immigration and nationality law.

Laila Ayub graduated from American University Washington College of Law in 2019 and immediately went to work for RAICES in San Antonio, Texas after taking the bar exam, where she worked with asylum seeking families. In August 2021, she saw a critical need as US forces withdrew from Afghanistan. Ms. Ayub worked to help file humanitarian parole applications, and soon realized that the need was so great that she dedicated her full efforts to it via the establishment of Project ANAR. Since October 2021, ANAR has assisted more than 1,500 Afghans with humanitarian parole applications and by creating multilingual legal resources, and making them available along with technical assistance, ANAR has helped practitioners and community members participate in a support network and lifeline for so many families. Ms. Ayub has led Project ANAR through partnerships and collaborations to create replicable models of legal assistance and expand the capacity of other legal service providers. As her nominator put it, “AILA needs more young and outstanding advocates like Laila Ayub and we should proudly recognize her for her transformative work.”

Maria Aftab Kari first attended law school in Canada and pursued an LLM at Georgetown University before passing the Texas bar exam. Her goal has been to run a private immigration practice predicated on providing low and pro bono services to underserved minority populations and she has been able to see that dream become a reality since 2021. Her private practice is primarily focused on asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile cases and assisting survivors of domestic violence file for immigration relief. She was brought on by the Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL) to oversee the creation and operation of their Gaza Family Project to help reunite families separated by the conflict and ensure the safety and security of Palestinian Americans. To date, she and her colleagues at ACRL have onboarded, trained, and continue to provide mentorship and assistance to more than 40 pro bono attorneys, overseeing approximately 60 humanitarian parole cases.