• July 29, 2021

Exclusive: How a simple paperwork error means this Afghan translator won’t be evacuated to safety

 Exclusive: How a simple paperwork error means this Afghan translator won’t be evacuated to safety


Nayab told Task & Purpose he tried to rectify the issue, unsuccessfully searching for his former supervisor for two years before trying to resubmit his application again. But it was again rejected by the U.S., for the same reason. Task & Purpose also tried to contact the supervisor, but his contact information is now out of date. “Now, he might die at the hands of the Taliban because the U.S. government is obsessed with paperwork.”

It’s unknown how many allies are also in Nayab’s situation—nor is this the first time otherwise simple paperwork errors or omissions have led to the rejection of lifesaving applications. In just one example, the previous administration rejected asylum applications for failing to list a middle name when the applicant didn’t even have one. The Guardian reported other applications were returned “over the equivalent of failing to dot an I or cross a T.” The “Blank Space” policy was reversed by the Biden administration in April.

Task & Purpose reported that a Pentagon spokesperson said Nayab should try the embassy in Kabul. But he’d, of course, already tried that and heard nothing back. “I have [messaged] many times but they didn’t solve the problem,” he said in the report.  “Unfortunately they do not know what kind of threat we’re suffering.”

The Biden administration announced this week that it would be evacuating the first group of allies and families beginning next week. Approximately 700 allies and 1,800 family members are expected to be temporarily housed at Fort Lee in Virginia before being resettled elsewhere in the U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the group of 2,500 people are first to be evacuated because they “are closest to completing special immigrant processing.” 

While advocacy and refugee groups welcomed the news of the flights, they urged quick protection for all allies in a U.S. territory. While this initial group of allies and families will go to Virginia (officials are reportedly in the process of booking flights and clearing COVID-19 tests), others may be sent to U.S. military bases in Qatar and Kuwait.

“The administration is taking a positive first step by expediting the relocation of 2,500 Afghan allies and their families directly to U.S territory,” said Veterans for American Ideals Project Manager Chris Purdy. “These arrivals represent about 4% of the Afghans who need U.S protections. The administration must follow the Fort Lee precedent and bring the remaining allies directly to U.S. territory for their visa processing.”

That should include safe passage for allies like Mirza Sayeed Nayab, who put everything on the line, and still have everything on the line, in aiding our military forces. “Horrifying,” Connecticut state Rep. Mat Blumenthal tweeted in response to his story. “But all too representative of the bureaucratic BS reasons some SIVs get denied. We could fix my client’s only because I was able to track down one of his letter-writers years later. What if we’d been unable to? I shudder to think.

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president of refugee resettlement agency Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said the group was grateful for the first arriving group of allies and families. “At the same time, however, we are deeply concerned for our allies who remain in grave danger in Afghanistan, uncertain of their fate,” she continued. “These courageous individuals risked their lives for the U.S. mission. They deserve evacuation to U.S. soil, where their safety, dignity, and human rights will be protected. We must keep our promise and offer them the same protections that our allies in Fort Lee will receive.”

“2,500 saved. 67,500 to go,” tweeted Human Rights First. “The U.S. must evacuate every last Afghan ally to U.S. territory. #GetThemToGuam.”





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