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Afghan soldier seeking asylum imprisoned in US, facing deportation back to Taliban, brother warns

Abdul Wasi Safi fought with American soldiers in Afghanistan until Biden's withdrawal, after which he became a hunted man.

Published: January 6, 2023 5:34pm

Updated: January 9, 2023 11:35pm

Afghan soldier Abdul Wasi Safi was arrested after crossing the southern border seeking asylum and now faces deportation back to Afghanistan, where he was being hunted by the Taliban for fighting alongside U.S. forces, according to his brother, who also helped American troops.

"He is now in prison in Eden, Texas, where he is facing deportation," Sami-ullah Safi told the John Solomon Reports podcast in an exclusive interview. "After all the effort, he's still in prison and is being ignored medical help of any kind. And he's 23 hours in isolation."

Wasi was trained by the U.S. military to be a special forces commando and help fight the Taliban. He continued fighting right up until the last American troops left Afghanistan in August 2021, when the Taliban officially conquered the country. Then he went into hiding.

Amid the chaos of the botched withdrawal ordered by President Biden, the U.S. left behind Wasi's biometric data, which fell into the hands of the Taliban. The Taliban began hunting Wasi and anyone else who helped the Americans.

"I wanted to come to the United States," Wasi told Fox News. "I don't select another country to help me because I was with them. But I come here, and they put me in jail."

Sami described his brother's harrowing, year-long journey, first to Pakistan and then Brazil, followed by a horrifying trek through Central America up to the U.S.-Mexico border. Along the way, he was robbed, beaten, and tortured in multiple countries.

"He received the worst torture that a human can stand in Panama," said Sami. "They beat him really badly. His teeth were falling from his mouth. On his right side, he can no longer hear anything from there."

Wasi was optimistic about receiving a better welcome in America.

"He thought that once he arrived here, he will present his documents and he will be basically at least appreciated for his service if not welcomed," said Sami. "But unfortunately, he got into a situation that is totally different than others."

Instead of a hero's welcome, Wasi was arrested after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into the U.S. on Sept. 30. A Border Patrol agent found Wasi, who asked for asylum. He thought the government would know his identity given his biometric data and service alongside the U.S. military.

According to Sami, his brother was interrogated, imprisoned, and charged with a crime. He was first taken to the Val Verde Correctional Facility and now is in the Eden Detention Facility in Texas.

Fox News reported Wasi was arrested and charged with a federal crime for illegally entering the U.S., although Sami said he's been unable to get an answer from federal authorities for more than three months on why his brother is in prison and facing deportation.

Wasi was interviewed by the FBI and underwent extensive background checks by government agencies that confirmed his identity, according to Sami, who added he presented his and his father's documents to prove they not only don't pose a threat but also helped the U.S. government.

So far, their efforts haven't affected Wasi's imprisonment, leading Sami to wonder why a record number of illegal immigrants have entered and been allowed to stay in the U.S. under the Biden administration while his brother is in prison and facing deportation.

"Thousands of people are being let into this country without any vetting, without any background [check], and my brother comes with a background that he was expecting a hero welcome, at least a recognition for his service," said Sami. "Thousands of people are being let into this country without any problem, and look at the crime rates going skyrocketing in a lot of cities. And yet, a person who gives everything for this country, who have nothing left within him, is still in prison and being treated as a criminal."

Wasi's case highlights a broken U.S. asylum system that, experts argue, has warped the criteria for what it takes to be eligible for asylum.

Simon Hankinson, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation's Border Security and Immigration Center, recently explained to Just the News that under U.S. law, in order to receive asylum, individuals leaving their own country are supposed to show "past persecution or well-founded fear" of future persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Wasi would appear to meet this threshold.

However, now the system "is being exploited by millions of economic migrants," said Hankinson. "They are fleeing hardship of all kinds, including bad governments and weak economies, but up to 90% don't meet the bar to get asylum. Because of current policy, they get to jump the long line of legal immigrants by simply showing up at the border."

This has contributed to a record, years-long backlog in U.S. immigration courts due to soaring asylum cases.

Meanwhile, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, the Biden administration released a reported 1,129,184 illegal immigrants into the U.S. through the end of June 2022, not including unaccompanied children and those who evaded authorities, primarily to await asylum hearings.

Most of them presumably didn't flee the Taliban's wrath after helping the U.S. military like Wasi or Sami, who himself served as an Afghan translator before coming to the U.S. legally and gaining citizenship.

"I was called a traitor, an infidel, for working as a translator with the United States military," said Sami. "I ignored all the threats, and all the challenges, and I continued my job because without a translator, the veterans and active members, they know that without a translator, they were not going to be able to go on a mission ... So, for a decade, I continued working, never quit, never said no to any mission."

Sami explained that his family was committing to fighting with the U.S. to ensure the Taliban didn't regain power in Afghanistan.

"We continue to stand by the United States military," said Sami. "We stood up for what's right. We stood up so that we can never see the Taliban or terrorist groups in power in Afghanistan, so that ... Afghanistan is not being pointed as a country who housed the terrorists who [perpetrated the 9/11 attacks]. Unfortunately, our current president decided to hand over Afghanistan after 20 years of war, hand over Afghanistan to the same enemy, to the same terrorists that men and women of this country fought to eliminate them, to destroy them. Now they're back in power."

Between the withdrawal from Afghanistan last year and the treatment of his brother now, Sami warned the U.S. is losing its credibility and goodwill abroad.

"We always say America will never leave its allies behind," he said. "I'm sure no one outside of America will trust the American government or our mission around the world."

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