Afghan Soldier Seeks Asylum After Arrest at US-Mexico Border

HOUSTON (AP) — Abdul Wasi Safi stored paperwork detailing his time as an Afghan soldier who labored with the U.S. navy near him as he made the monthslong, treacherous journey from Brazil to the U.S.-Mexico border.

He fled Afghanistan fearing retribution from the Taliban following the August 2021 American withdrawal, and hoped the paperwork would safe his asylum within the U.S. Regardless of thick jungles, raging rivers and beatings, he stored these paperwork secure.

However after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border close to Eagle Go, Texas, in September, Wasi Safi was arrested on a federal immigration cost. He stays jailed at a detention middle in Eden, Texas, and fears his asylum declare could also be denied.

Wasi Safi’s brother, attorneys, navy organizations and a bipartisan group of lawmakers working to free him say his case highlights how America’s chaotic navy withdrawal continues to hurt Afghan residents who helped the U.S. however had been left behind.

“He tried each approach potential to save lots of these certificates within the hopes that when he … presents his applicable paperwork on the southern border … he would obtain a heat welcome and his service can be appreciated and acknowledged,” mentioned Sami-ullah Safi, his brother.

If despatched again to Afghanistan, he might be killed by the Taliban, which since its takeover has killed greater than 100 Afghan officers and safety drive members, in accordance with a United Nations report.

“It’s truthfully simply shameful that we’ve handled people who helped defend our nation this manner,” mentioned Jennifer Cervantes, one in all Wasi Safi’s immigration attorneys.

Wasi Safi, 27, had been an intelligence officer with the Afghan Nationwide Safety Forces, offering U.S. forces with data on terrorists, mentioned Sami-ullah Safi, 29, who goes by Sami.

Sami Safi had been employed by the U.S. navy as a translator since 2010, making him eligible for a particular immigrant visa for interpreters and others paid by the U.S. authorities. The visa allowed him to maneuver to Houston in 2015.

However Wasi Safi was not eligible for that visa as a result of he was not employed immediately by the U.S.

When American forces withdrew from Afghanistan, Wasi Safi went into hiding and discovered that associates within the Afghan navy had been killed by the Taliban.

He was capable of get a visa for Brazil and traveled there in 2022. However he realized he wasn’t a lot safer as he and different migrants had been crushed and robbed by gangs.

In the summertime of 2022, Wasi Safi started his journey to the U.S.

When he crossed an enormous river in the Darien Hole, the imposing and harmful stretch of thick jungle between Colombia and Panama, Wasi Safi stored a backpack together with his paperwork above his head, in order that they wouldn’t get moist.

When law enforcement officials in Guatemala tried to extort him and took his backpack, Wasi Safi endured their beatings till he received the paperwork again, in accordance with his brother.

On his journey, Wasi Safi suffered severe accidents from beatings, together with broken entrance tooth and listening to loss in his proper ear. Zachary Fertitta, one in all his prison protection attorneys, mentioned Wasi Safi has not acquired correct medical care whereas in detention. A GoFundMe web page has been set as much as assist pay for medical care if he’s launched.

Sami Safi mentioned his brother has develop into disillusioned since his detention, believing the paperwork he thought would save him are nugatory.

However Fertitta mentioned these paperwork present “he’s clearly an ally, was skilled by our troops, labored with our troops.”

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Houston Democrat, final week despatched a letter to President Joe Biden, asking him to pardon Wasi Safi for his immigration associated costs. She mentioned Thursday that his paperwork present he’s “a person who clearly liked this nation … and was prepared to die for this nation.”

Republican Congressmen Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Michael Waltz of Florida, in addition to greater than 20 veterans teams have additionally referred to as for Wasi Safi’s freedom whereas his asylum declare is reviewed.

The White Home declined to touch upon Friday, referring inquiries to the Justice Division and U.S. Customs and Border Safety. The U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace for the Western District of Texas, which is prosecuting his case for the Justice Division, and Customs and Border Safety didn’t instantly return emails in search of remark.

Throughout a information convention Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman U.S. Air Pressure Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder mentioned he couldn’t touch upon Wasi Safi’s case however that the Protection Division is “supportive of any efforts that we will make to make sure that we’re taking applicable care of” the nation’s Afghan allies.

Fertitta mentioned Wasi Safi’s prison case has to first be resolved earlier than his asylum declare may be thought of, and he’s hoping that decision doesn’t embody a conviction, which might imperil the asylum request.

Almost 76,000 Afghans who labored with American troopers since 2001 as translators, interpreters and companions arrived within the U.S. on navy planes after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. However their immigration standing stays unclear after Congress didn’t go a proposed legislation, the Afghan Adjustment Act, that will have solidified their authorized residency standing.

Fertitta mentioned Wasi Safi’s case highlights the nation’s “damaged immigration system” and its failure to assist Afghan allies.

“You’ve gotten all of these issues colliding at our border and it’s a really tough downside to kind out,” Fertitta mentioned.

Sami Safi mentioned he stays hopeful.

“I hope that President Biden and those that have authority over this case step up and save his life. He has given sufficient sacrifice for this nation. My entire household has sacrificed for this nation,” he mentioned.


Related Press author Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.



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