Abdul Wasi Safi: Charges dropped against Afghan soldier who was detained seeking asylum at southern border

Washington
CNN
 — 

Legal fees have been dropped in opposition to an Afghan nationwide who served with the US navy in Afghanistan and was apprehended after fleeing to the US by crossing the southern border with Mexico.

Abdul Wasi Safi, known as Wasi, served alongside US particular operations forces in Afghanistan as an Afghan particular forces soldier and fled the nation after the US’ withdrawal was full in August 2021. He traveled to the US on his personal, and in September 2022 he was detained after he entered over the southern border from Mexico.

Safi’s case has drawn the eye of veteran teams and US lawmakers who pushed for the fees to be dropped and the Biden administration to take motion and grant him the precise to remain within the nation whereas he awaited a listening to on his asylum declare.

Safi’s immigration legal professional, Jennifer Cervantes, instructed CNN that he meant to hunt asylum, however was unfamiliar with the reporting necessities and didn’t go to a longtime port of entry.

“He didn’t perceive that he wanted to go to a port of entry to ask for asylum, in any other case this case would have been very completely different,” Cervantes mentioned on Wednesday. “Wasi’s not from the southern border, he’s not from Latin America, and so he wasn’t actually conscious of the way to really current himself for asylum … He thought that he wanted to use as quickly as he discovered a CBP (Customs and Border Safety) official to present him his paperwork, and that’s precisely what he did.”

Safi was finally charged with failing to adjust to reporting necessities, however court docket data present that the fees have been dismissed by a Texas choose on Monday.

The information was introduced on Tuesday night by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

“Mr. Safi got here throughout the Rio Grande with a bunch of migrants after being crushed overseas and determined to discover a option to attain America to see freedom,” Jackson Lee mentioned in an announcement on Tuesday. “Sadly, his entry was at a non-port of entry and Mr. Safi has been held ever since in detention services. What occurred during the last couple of weeks was a strategic and forceful effort to carry all companies collectively to make the precise resolution for Mr. Safi.”

Jackson Lee took a job in serving to get the fees dropped by reaching out to management of US companies to talk to Safi’s standing as an Afghan soldier and particular person who labored alongside US forces, she instructed CNN on Wednesday.

“I’m very grateful to the management of the Division of Protection who answered my name instantly and offered necessary and beneficial data,” she mentioned, although she declined to offer extra particulars on what that help appeared like.

“I’m grateful to say thanks to my authorities,” Jackson Lee added. “Thanks to my president, and thanks to the management of the completely different companies together with the Division of Protection that basically understood his plight and labored exhausting to make sure that we moved this course of alongside.”

Sami-ullah Safi, Wasi Safi’s brother who goes by Sami and who additionally labored alongside the US navy in Afghanistan earlier than he turned a US citizen in July 2021, celebrated the information on Wednesday however instructed CNN he nonetheless has questions.

“He got here to the identical nation that he fought alongside, and to his shock he was singled out and handled as a legal. Is that this how America treats its allies and people who sacrificed alongside People in Afghanistan?” Sami Safi mentioned. “My service for the navy ought to have been valued. My brother’s service to the navy ought to have been valued.”

In keeping with a letter despatched to President Joe Biden by a coalition of US veterans teams, Wasi Safi “served faithfully alongside US Particular Operations Forces” and “continued to assist the Northern resistance in opposition to the Taliban” in the course of the US withdrawal in 2021. However because the Taliban consolidated energy, it was clear Wasi Safi could be at excessive danger due to his work with the US particular operations neighborhood.

Sami Safi beforehand instructed CNN that his brother obtained “a number of voicemails” whereas he was nonetheless in Afghanistan that mentioned his fellow Afghan service members have been being captured and killed by the Taliban.

So Wasi Safi started the journey to the US. The letter from the US veterans teams mentioned that he “traveled on foot or by bus via 10 international locations, surviving torture, theft, and makes an attempt on his life, to hunt asylum in the USA from the risk on his life and anticipating a hero’s welcome from his American allies.” As a substitute, he was apprehended by Border Patrol and has been of their custody since.

And whereas the fees in opposition to him have been dropped, the highway for Wasi Safi and his brother isn’t over.

Cervantes has requested that Customs and Border Patrol drops its retainer on Wasi Safi earlier than he’s transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. The detainer is “pretty frequent,” she mentioned, as a result of CBP “need him to be transferred to ICE and do a reputable worry interview.”

“Proper now, we’re form of going backwards and forwards between CBP – I’m asking CBP to launch their detainer and truly difficulty him an OAR parole (an immigration standing for Afghan migrants), which is what the USA points to most Afghans that they introduced in as a result of I feel that’s the precise factor to do on this case,” Cervantes mentioned. “Nevertheless, in the event that they don’t do this, he’ll be transferred to ICE custody, and we’ll be making an attempt to get him launched from ICE.”

She added that she doesn’t have “any doubt” that Wasi Safi will have the ability to go the credible worry interview.

“We’ll hopefully have the ability to get him launched from all custody right here shortly,” Cervantes mentioned, “and that the federal government will actually see not solely his service to the USA – Wasi labored in counterterrorism, so he was making an attempt to stop terrorist assaults. So not solely will they hopefully see that, but additionally once more the risk to his life.”

Sami Safi mentioned his brother’s immigration standing is the following hurdle that he’s going to start out engaged on instantly.

“The most important problem that I’ve to now begin engaged on could be his immigration standing – what standing America is prepared to present him with all his sacrifice,” he mentioned.