This is a story about an Afghan soldier and a tragically broken American immigration and asylum system.
Abdul Wasi Safi was trained by the US military to be an elite special forces commando in Afghanistan. When Kabul fell, Wasi was still fighting the Taliban in the north. On August 30, 2021, when the last US plane left Kabul, Wasi went into hiding and moved from one safe house to another set up by US veterans who helped him get to Pakistan. He hoped to receive a special immigrant visa and move to the US legally.
The Taliban had his biometrics, left behind by the US government, and they were after him. Now, Wasi sits in a Texas prison facing deportation to Kabul and certain death, an example of America’s broken asylum system.
“I was in a special forces commando unit with the US military,” Wasi told Fox News in a phone interview from the Eden Detention Center in Texas. “I wanted to come to the United States. I don’t choose another country to help me because I was with them. But I came here and they put me in jail.”
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He described a treacherous year-long journey across two continents. After receiving a visa to Brazil, he soon realized that Afghans were seen as terrorists in Latin America. So, he began to make his way to the border of the United States. He traveled on foot and by bus to 10 countries and was robbed, tortured and beaten. He shared with Fox News some of the videos he took crossing the Darien Gap near Panama, a dangerous crossing. He received the treatment he expected from the Taliban.
“Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. I came all that distance to come to the United States because I was thinking and hoping that the American government would help me,” Wasi told Fox.
Instead, he was arrested at the border while trying to cross the Rio Grande.
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“The Panama Police tortured me. In front of all the people, they beat me. They called me a terrorist,” Wasi said. “I don’t know why. For no reason, they tortured me. I don’t know why.”
Wasi’s brother, Sami-ullah Safi, worked as a translator for the US military beginning in 2010. In 2015, Sami moved to Houston on a special immigrant visa and became a US citizen in July 2021, one month earlier. of the fall of Kabul.
He has been trying to help his brother get to the United States ever since the Taliban took over Afghanistan. He said that he is surprised by what his brother went through to get to Texas and the treatment received since then.
“People were dead in the river. On the way, several people died. And, in the jungle, he explained that there was a type of people who sometimes robbed and mostly killed people. And he survived,” Sami said in disbelief. . He worked with groups of American veterans to pay for Wasi’s trip and arrange his visa to Brazil.
“Instead of the locals and the people who lived in the area, which was designated for Afghans, welcoming him in Brazil, they started treating the Afghans as terrorists. And mobs robbed and beat him in Brazil,” Sami said. . “He will never be able to forget the torture the Panamanian police gave him. They stripped him naked. They beat him to the point that they couldn’t beat him anymore.”
On September 30, Wasi finally crossed the Rio Grande into the United States, where he thought the US government and the special forces he served alongside would welcome him with open arms. He assumed they knew who he was.
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“I have biometrics with the US military,” Wasi said. “Also, I have biometrics with the special force command. I was at Camp Marmol. There was the US military there. The US military was there. We went on missions together.”
Sami explained why they are both disappointed in the US government and the US military Wasi served.
“He is deeply disappointed. And he calls those who always told him: ‘We are fighting against a common enemy. We are fighting shoulder to shoulder.’ He is calling out those who called him ‘companion in battle,’” Sami said. “He did not expect this behavior from US officials against him. He expected a hero’s welcome.”
Instead, after crossing the Rio Grande, a border patrol agent found him by following his tracks. Wasi asked the agent for asylum and was instead arrested and charged with a federal crime for entering the country illegally. He was first taken to the Val Verde Correctional Center and now he is in the Eden Detention Center in Texas.
Ben Owen is a US veteran who founded the non-profit organization Flanders Fields to help homeless veterans and Afghans and has helped the Safi family navigate legal complexities.
“The night he crossed, I think he was with over 90 immigrants, all detained, all released. But the one guy who served with US forces that we know, you know, has America’s best interests.” deep down to the point where he would put himself in danger to defend him, he’s still being held,” Owen told Fox News.
Wasi faces a criminal sentence for crossing the border illegally and being deported to Afghanistan.
“To answer your question about how we know who he is, we found him on the lists of the last special operations task force commander to leave Afghanistan,” Owen said. “So he’s exactly who he says he is. We have all the certifications. We know he went to officer training in India and was in command. I mean, these guys are more vetted than you and me, Jennifer. We’re talking annual polygraphs.” We know everything there is to know about them. There is no chance they are terrorists.”
In fact, even after Wasi was captured and jailed, his brother Sami continues to help American veterans like Ben Owen.
“This guy continues to volunteer his services and put his heart on the line for America, even after his brother was arrested,” Owen recalled in disbelief. “This guy continues to put himself in danger for the United States, even after the United States detained his brother and threatened him with deportation. It’s inconceivable.”
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Owen was referring to a recent volunteer effort in which Sami joined him in Houston to catch a fugitive accused of murder in Atlanta.
“I did everything I could for this country to the best of my ability. My brother put his life in danger, working in special forces, which was not accepted by many people in Afghanistan. And I worked together with the United States military.” , and I didn’t expect this to happen to my brother,” Sami said from his home in Houston, five hours from where his brother remains incarcerated in a US detention center with the country’s worst criminals.
The Department of Homeland Security has not responded to Fox’s repeated requests for information about Wasi’s case. The Justice Department has declined to comment. His next court hearing is scheduled for January 10.