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Afghan Interpreter, Mohasif Motawakil, Released from ICE Custody

Today, our client Mohasif Motawakil, the 48-year-old Afghan interpreter for the U.S. military who was almost deported by Customs and Border Patrol after being detained at the Houston International Airport and held at an ICE Detention Center for seven days has been released from custody. His family — his 46-year-old wife and five children — are seeking to have their visas reinstated, to allow them to build a new life here after risking their lives to support the American military mission in Afghanistan.

“It’s shocking to see the way this administration is treating those who have supported our troops,” said Erika Andiola, chief advocacy officer for RAICES. “Of course, it’s not only veterans who are being attacked by our immigration system: We’ve seen sponsors deported when they pick up children from detention centers, children die in immigration custody, and migrants tear-gassed across the border. The administration is engaged in a systematic attack on all who it thinks do not belong in this country, and this is just the latest evidence of that.”

Mohasif and his family arrived in Houston on January 10 and were immediately detained by Customs and Border Protection, who canceled his visa. Mohasif is eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa because of his work helping the United States military in Afghanistan. Such visas are given to those who risked their life supporting the American military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Mohasif did just that, serving for with the military from 2012-2013 and later with a contractor.

Instead, he was arrested by immigration officials and placed in an ICE detention center. He and his family would have been deported were it not for the efforts of Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Representative Al Green, Representative Joaquin Castro, Representative Lloyd Doggett, RAICES supporters who made calls to ICE, and the activists who heeded our call and went to the Houston airport to demand Mohasif’s release.

RAICES will continue fighting for those like Mohasif who only desire a safer life in the United States. Everyone deserves a fair hearing to enter this country, from military veterans to Central Americans escaping violence and poverty, and we will ensure that right is protected.