An Afghan special forces commando seeking asylum gets caught up in the broken US immigration system

This is a story about an Afghan soldier and a tragically broken US immigration and asylum system.

Abdul Wasi Safi was trained by the US military to become an elite commando of a special forces in Afghanistan. When Kabul fell, Wasi was still fighting the Taliban in the north. Wed Aug. On Feb. 30, 2021, as the last US plane left Kabul, Wasi went into hiding, moving from one safe house to another arranged by US veterans who helped him get to Pakistan. He hoped to obtain a special immigrant visa and enter the United States legally

The Taliban had his biometrics left behind by the US government and they were hunting him. Now in a Texas prison facing deportation to Kabul and certain death, Wasi is a poster child for America’s broken asylum system.

“I was in a US military special forces unit,” 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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Afghans with guns

Afghans with guns
(Fox News)

He described a year-long treacherous journey across two continents. After obtaining a visa for Brazil, he quickly realized that Afghans were viewed as terrorists in Latin America. So he made his way to the US border. He traveled through 10 countries on foot and by bus and was robbed, tortured and beaten. He shared with Fox News some of the videos he took while crossing the Darien Gap near Panama, a dangerous crossing. Along the way, he received the treatment he had come to expect from the Taliban.

“Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. I am crossing all this distance to get to the United States because I thought and hoped that the American government would help me,” Wasi told Fox.

Instead, he was arrested at the border while attempting to cross the Rio Grande.

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“The Panama police tortured me. You hit me in front of everyone. They called me a terrorist,” Wasi said. “I do not know why. They tortured me for no reason. I do not know why.”

Wasi’s brother Sami-ullah Safi worked as a translator for the US military from 2010. In 2015, Sami moved to Houston on a special immigrant visa and became a US citizen in July 2021, a month before Kabul fell.

He’s been trying to help his brother get to the US since the Taliban took over Afghanistan. He said he was shocked by what his brother went through to get to Texas and his treatment since.

“People were dead in the river. Several people died along the way. And in the jungle he explained that there are people who sometimes rob people and mostly kill. And he survived,” said Sami in disbelief. He worked with US veterans groups to pay for Wasi’s trip and organize his visa to Brazil.

Foreigners board a Qatar Airways plane at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.  9, 2021.

Foreigners board a Qatar Airways plane at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. 9, 2021.
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

“Instead of being welcomed in Brazil by locals and people who lived in the area designated for Afghans, they started treating Afghans as terrorists. And he was robbed and beaten by mobs in Brazil,” Sami said. “He will never be able to forget the torture inflicted on him by the Panamanian police. They took off his clothes. They hit him so hard they couldn’t hit him anymore.”

Wed Sept. On October 30, Wasi finally crossed the Rio Grande into the United States, where he believed he would be welcomed with open arms by the American government and the special forces he served alongside. He assumed they knew who he was.

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“They have biometrics in the US military,” Wasi said. “Also, I have biometrics with Special Forces Command. I was at marble camp. There was US military. There was US Army.

Sami explained why they are both disappointed in the US government and the US military that Wasi served.

“He is deeply disappointed. And he addresses those who have always told him: ‘We are fighting against a common enemy. We fight shoulder to shoulder.’ He calls those who called him ‘Battle Buddy,'” Sami said. “He did not expect this behavior from US officials against him. He expected a hero’s reception.”

Instead, a Border Patrol officer found him after crossing the Rio Grande after following his footprints. Wasi asked the agent for asylum and was instead arrested and charged with entering the country illegally on a federal crime. He was first taken to Val Verde Correctional Facility and is now at the Eden Detention Facility in Texas.

Ben Owen is a US veteran who founded the non-profit organization Flanders Fields to help homeless veterans and Afghans and helped the Safi family through legal troubles.

“The night he crossed the border I believe he was with more than 90 other migrants who were all arrested and all released to the point where he would put himself in danger to get it defending is still being held,” Owen told Fox News.

Wasi faces a criminal conviction for illegally crossing the border and being deported to Afghanistan.

“To answer your question about how we know who he is, we found him on the list 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 certifications. We know that he went to officer training in India and was in command. I mean, these guys are better tested than you and me, Jennifer. We’re talking annual polygraphs. We know everything there is to know about them. There’s no chance they’re terrorists.

Immigrants wait to be processed by US Border Patrol after crossing the border from Mexico.  The US-Mexico border can be seen in the background.  6, 2022 in Yuma, Ariz.

Immigrants wait to be processed by US Border Patrol after crossing the border from Mexico. The US-Mexico border can be seen in the background. 6, 2022 in Yuma, Ariz.
(Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images)

In fact, even after Wasi was captured and imprisoned, his brother Sami continues to help American veterans like Ben Owen.

“This guy continues to volunteer his services and put his heart into America even after his brother was arrested,” Owen recalled in disbelief. “This guy continues to put himself at risk for America, even after America arrested his brother and threatened him with deportation. It’s ruthless.”

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Owen was referring to a recent volunteer assignment where Sami joined him in Houston to capture a fugitive accused of murder in Atlanta.

“I did everything I could for this country to the best of my ability. My brother risked his life by working in a special forces unit, which was not accepted by many people in Afghanistan. And I’ve worked side-by-side with the US military, and I didn’t expect this to happen to my brother,” Sami said from his Houston home, five hours from where his brother dealt with the worst criminals of the country is incarcerated in a US penitentiary.

The Department of Homeland Security has not responded to Fox’s repeated requests for information about Wasi’s case. The Justice Department declined to comment. His next court hearing is scheduled for January. 10

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