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Afghan soldier seeks asylum after arrest at US-Mexico border

The US-Mexico border patrolled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who is on the lookout for illegal crossings, human trafficking and drug smuggling. (Donna Burton/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
January 27, 2023

Abdul Wasi Safi arrived in Eagle Pass, Texas on September 30 of 2022, seeking asylum in fear of Taliban retribution for his work with the United States during military occupancy in Afghanistan.

Wasi was immediately detained and charged will illegal immigration.

After months, charges for illegal immigration have been dropped. While Wasi remains in Border Patrol custody, his attorney, Jennifer Cervantes, is now filing the necessary paperwork to apply for asylum and immigration to the U.S.

“He’s definitely not a threat, he’s been vetted [by the FBI],”  she said, according to The Texas Tribune. “He’s not a flight risk, he wants to be here and he wants to proceed legally.”

Wasi previously served as a special forces intelligence officer in the Afghan National Security forces, directly aiding the U.S. military. When President Joe Biden’s administration withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, Wasi found himself trapped in a potentially hostile city. Wasi tried, like many, to board a military flight but was unsuccessful despite going to Hamid Karzai Airport for several days.

Wasi was unable to reach the embassy in Qatar as he didn’t have a visa to cross either Pakistan or Iran.

Wasi’s brother, Sami-ullah Safi, had been luckier. Issued a special visa in 2015 for his work as an interpreter with the U.S. military and achieving citizenship in 2021, he was determined to see his brother freed.

“It was unfair, unjust, for the U.S. military to leave all the people who put their lives on the line working for the military,” Safi said.

Following Biden’s withdrawal that left 13 U.S. troops dead, reports of Taliban “revenge killings” of those who aided the U.S. appeared, according to VOA.

Steve Patterson, chief operating officer of the Special Operations Association of America, expressed support for Wasi and others in his position, The Texas Tribune reported.

“We view members of Afghan Special Forces as part of our community. We’ve been looking at finding paths to citizenship for them, looking at the federal level, but there’s not as much energy on [Capitol Hill] to get these things passed that we’d like to see,” he said.

For Wasi and his brother, the dropping of charges signifies an opportunity for a new life. “I promise you, I’m so happy and it’s a huge relief for me.” Safi said.

Wasi’s pardon was supported by several in Congress, including Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (DD-X), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL).