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Afghan Man Trying to Save His Family

Plus: 18-year-old Venezuelan among first arrested under Texas order, Iowa launches program for Afghan refugees

Deanna Garcia

Aug 20, 2021

U. S. Department of State Headquarters by Mark Van Scyoc

This summary was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Qismat Amin, a former interpreter for the U.S. military who is living in Dallas, Texas, is frightened of what the Taliban could do to his family in Afghanistan. He’s mainly concerned for his brother who also worked as an interpreter in 2011 for over a year. Amin was able to obtain a Special Immigrant Visa in 2017 for the same job and move to the U.S. right after. But his brother’s initial application was turned down and he reapplied. Amin said he feels exposed in his family’s neighborhood in Jalalabad, where the Taliban was, because everyone there knows what he and his brother did for the U.S. forces. BuzzFeed News 

In other national immigration news…

18-Year-Old Venezuelan Among First Held in Texas’ Prison for Migrants

Antonio left Venezuela with his father a month ago to seek asylum in the U.S. due to fear of violent political persecution. He was later accused of trespassing private property when he crossed the southern border and put in Texas’ new prison for weeks. Antonio was one of the first migrants arrested under Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s new “catch-and-jail” policy to arrest migrants on state criminal charges instead of passing them to federal authorities. Antonio became stuck in a bureaucratic limbo when he was released since local, state and federal officials didn’t know what to do with him. Immigrant rights advocates said Antonio’s situation confirmed their fears about the mishaps that could occur when Texas attempted to supersede federal immigration practices. The Texas Tribune 

Iowa Creating a Program for Afghan Refugees 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced the state would welcome refugees from Afghanistan who want to resettle there. In doing so, she also tried to differentiate the situation from migrants coming across the U.S.-Mexico border, as she has pushed for harsh border restrictions. U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R), who is working with Reynolds, mentioned she’s trying to partner with New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) to push the State Department to allow as many individuals as possible to qualify for the Special Immigrant Visa Program. U.S. Bureau of Refugee Services data suggests Iowa could take about 2,000 refugees a year, and Reynolds didn’t disagree with the number. The Associated Press 

Pennsylvania Preparing to Help Afghan Refugees Resettle

Pennsylvania nonprofits are opening their doors for families fleeing Afghanistan. Church World Service Lancaster, a resettlement agency, sent four employees to Virginia’s Fort Lee military base, which is the first stop for some Afghan refugees. CWS is trying to bring some of those refugees to Pennsylvania, communications coordinator Rachel Helwig said. Lancaster was once called the “American refugee capital” due to its resettlement history and network of agencies and organizations. Meanwhile Pittsburgh’s Jewish Family and Community Services has begun to resettle one family is awaiting two more. York Daily Record 

ACLU Demands End to Trump Policy Barring U.S. Citizenship Path for Troops

Court papers filed Tuesday show the American Civil Liberties Union is pushing the Pentagon to end a Trump administration policy and reintroduce an expedited path to U.S. citizenship for foreign-born members of the military. The filing claims the military has disregarded a court decision that deemed unlawful the policy imposing minimum service requirements on new recruits before they could apply for citizenship. The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit against the 2017 policy and claimed it was a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Former President Donald Trump’s Pentagon appealed the decision. A year later, the ACLU claims the military is still enforcing this policy. NBC News



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