UNITED STATES NEWS

Afghan soldier who was arrested at US-Mexico border after fleeing Taliban is granted asylum

Sep 13, 2023, 12:25 PM | Updated: 12:28 pm

HOUSTON (AP) — An Afghan soldier who fled the Taliban and traveled through nearly a dozen countries before being arrested at the Texas-Mexico border and detained for months has been granted asylum, allowing him to remain in the United States, his brother said Wednesday.

Abdul Wasi Safi, 27, is one of tens of thousands of Afghan citizens who fled to the U.S. following the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan in August 2021.

The soldier, called Wasi by family and friends, and his older brother, Sami Safi, worried that if Wasi Safi wasn’t granted asylum, he could be sent back to Afghanistan, where he would likely be killed by the Taliban because he had worked with the U.S. military.

But Wasi Safi’s lawyer surprised the brothers Tuesday with news that his asylum request had been granted. The brothers, who live in Houston, had thought a decision wasn’t coming until a Nov. 19 court hearing.

“I have tears of joy in my eyes,” Sami Safi said. “Now he can live here. Now he can be safe here.”

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which handles immigration cases, didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment about Wasi Safi being granted asylum, which was first reported by the Military Times.

An intelligence officer for the Afghan National Security Forces, Wasi Safi made his way to Brazil last year. Last summer, he started a months-long journey on foot and by boat through raging rivers and dense jungle to the U.S., crossing 10 countries on his treacherous trek.

At the U.S.-Mexico border near Eagle Pass, Texas, Wasi Safi was arrested in September 2022 and spent several months in detention before being freed following intervention by lawyers and lawmakers.

Those working on Wasi Safi’s case say it highlights how America’s chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan continues to harm Afghan citizens who helped the U.S. but were left behind.

Nearly 90,000 Afghans who worked with American soldiers as translators or in other capacities since 2001 have arrived in the U.S. on military planes since the chaotic withdrawal, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Afghan Adjustment Act, a proposed law to streamline their immigration process, has stalled in Congress.

Other Afghans, like Wasi Safi, made their way to the U.S. on their own.

“This was supposed to happen because if you give so much sacrifice to a country’s government, to a country’s military who promised you ‘we will never leave our allies behind,’ it was the right thing for the government to do,” said Sami Safi, 30, who was a translator for the U.S. military and has lived in Houston since 2015.

Wasi Safi’s unresolved immigration status had meant that he wasn’t authorized to work. By getting asylum, he will be able to apply for a work permit.

His brother said it will also help him focus on getting treatment for injuries he suffered during his journey to the U.S. A brutal beating by police officers in Panama severely damaged his teeth and jaw and left him with permanent hearing loss.

Sami Safi said getting his brother asylum is part of an effort that he hopes one day leads to bringing their parents and other siblings to the U.S. They continue facing threats in Afghanistan over Wasi Safi’s work with the U.S. military, Sami Safi said.

“They were full of joy after hearing about my brother. And we’re just only hoping and praying that we get to see them, we get to bring them here, so that my brothers and my sisters can pursue happiness and live a peaceful life,” he said.

___

Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

United States News

FILE -Stephen Parlato of Boulder, Colo., holds a sign that reads "Hands Off Roe!!!" as abortion rig...

Associated Press

Alabama IVF ruling puts spotlight on state plans for tax breaks and child support for fetuses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are legally protected children is highlighting how support for the idea that a fetus should have the same rights as a person underpins far less dramatic laws and proposals from abortion foes across the U.S. Lawmakers in at least six states have […]

3 hours ago

This image provided by Tyler Watts shows Florida Man Games competitors, from left, Joshua Barr, Mic...

Associated Press

At the Florida Man Games, tank-topped teams compete at evading police, wrestling over beer

They rose up by the dozens from across Florida, caricatured competitors in tank tops and cutoff shorts, for a showdown that treats evading police and wrestling over beer like Olympic sports. Promoted as “the most insane athletic showdown on Earth,” the Florida Man Games poke fun at the state’s reputation for bizarre stories that involve […]

3 hours ago

Andie Nelson, right, embraces Brian Jaskot, both of Virginia, after their race during the 25 meter ...

Associated Press

‘Totally cold’ is not too cold for winter swimmers competing in a frozen Vermont lake

NEWPORT, Vt. (AP) — Plunging into a frozen lake and swimming laps may not be everyone’s good time but for winter swimmers who return year after year to a northern Vermont lake near the Canadian border, there’s nothing better. The 10th annual Memphremagog Winter Swimming Festival kicked off Friday with the 200-meter (218-yard) freestyle race […]

4 hours ago

FILE - A school bus moves up Rock Door Canyon Rd., in Oljato-Monument Valley, Utah, on the Navajo r...

Associated Press

Native American tribes gain new authority to stop unwanted hydropower projects

Federal regulators have granted Native American tribes more power to block hydropower projects on their land after a flurry of applications were filed to expand renewable energy in the water-scarce U.S. Southwest.

7 hours ago

Associated Press

1 killed, 17 injured in New York City apartment fire

NEW YORK (AP) — One person was killed and 17 were injured in a fire that broke out at a New York City apartment building, leaving some residents trapped on the fire escape on Friday. Twelve people were taken to area hospitals, and four were in critical condition, officials said at a news conference. One […]

8 hours ago

(Karim Jaafar/Pool via AP)...

Associated Press

Biden administration restores Trump-rescinded policy on illegitimacy of Israeli settlements

The Biden administration on Friday restored a U.S. legal finding dating back nearly 50 years that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are “illegitimate” under international law.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Afghan soldier who was arrested at US-Mexico border after fleeing Taliban is granted asylum