Afghan family detained in LA released but status unclear

08 March, 2017, 00:18 | Author: Ora Austin
  • Afghan Family

A petition for the release of the Afghan family was filed by the International Refugee Assistance Project, which said they had been taken into custody "with absolutely no justification" and it was a violation of due process rights under the USA constitution.

The mother, father and their three children, including a baby, arrived at LAX for a connecting flight to Washington state, where they planned to resettle. Lawyers say the father obtained special immigrant visas for his family after working for the US government in Afghanistan.

The father, mother and three small children were granted Special Immigrant Visas because family members risked their lives to defend the US government overseas, said the filing from lawyers with the International Refugee Assistance Project, a legal aid group for refugees and displaced persons.

The father, known in court documents as John Doe, worked for the US government in Afghanistan and the entire family was extensively vetted, their attorneys said.

The move came shortly before a federal judge was expected to decide on whether to extend a temporary restraining order that blocked federal authorities from moving the Afghan family out of the Central District of California, which includes much of Southern California. For now, the family will be allowed to continue their trip to Seattle, where they plan to relocate.

Volunteer attorneys have taken up the case.

Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, declined to discuss the type of work the father did for the USA government but said he spent years working on United States military bases.

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The family's details and names were not released because the lawmaker's were not granted permission to make them public due to security reasons.

Talia Inlender, a senior staff attorney at Public Counsel, says the government agreed to release the family Monday.

The process for obtaining those visas involves intensive vetting, including interviews, security checks, medical examinations and fingerprints - as well as a finding that the applicant has experienced a serious threat because of his or her work with the USA government, according to the petition. His wife, Heller said, is illiterate and speaks no English.

The father, who has not been named, worked for the United States government in Afghanistan.

The mother was being detained in downtown Los Angeles with her children, while the father was in a maximum-security detention facility in Orange County, California, Inlender told Reuters. "The balance of equities tip in their favor and the injunction is in the public interest", read the order. In the meantime, why federal officials detained the family remains a mystery.

Earlier Monday, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said in a statement that the agency would comply with the judge's order "and all other legal requirements".

Court documents on ICE detainees are usually not available for people facing deportation because of executive orders issued by President Donald Trump.

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