As a combat interpreter in Afghanistan, Sharif Azizi helped U.S. Special Forces hunt down Taliban targets, even after suffering leg and chest injuries from stepping on a land mine. When his life was threatened by the insurgents, the United States acknowledged his eight years of service and in 2017 brought him to safety in Los Angeles.
Last year, when Taliban fighters seized Kabul, they came looking for his mother and siblings. Unable to make it through the throngs amassed at the airport as the last American flights were leaving, the family fled to Pakistan. U.S. security officials who had helped arrange their exit papers assured the family that it could apply for a program designed to expedite entry into the United States for people facing emergencies. Months after submitting their applications, they received the response from the U.S. government: Denied.
“All the certificates of commendation I received, all the promises we got, it feels like a big lie,” said Mr. Azizi, who currently lives in San Jose, Calif. “They just leave my family and basically say, ‘That’s done. We don’t care.’”
Thousands of Afghan allies who narrowly missed being evacuated, and who have been living in hiding in Afghanistan or illegally in neighboring countries, have counted on a program known as humanitarian parole to reach the United States. But half a year since the frantic U.S. withdrawal, most remain stranded, either because they have been denied entry or are still awaiting the outcome of their cases. [Continue reading…]