Afghan Man Working for U.S. Sues Government to Evacuate Young Sons from Home Country

An Afghan father and U.S. employee who pleaded with government officials to reunite him with his two children filed a lawsuit Thursday for the failure of legal obligations under the Afghan Allies Protection Act, the Associated Press reported.

Mohammad, who asked that only his first name be used to protect his children, received a death threat two years ago from the Taliban during a work conference in California, forcing him to stay in the United States and seek to bring his wife and two sons, 9 and 11, to America. The conference he was attending was part of his job on a U.S. government-funded project in Afghanistan.

While Mohammad tried to get visas for his family, his wife died of a heart attack in 2020. Mohammad has been trying since to have his children join him in California, as his sons are living in hiding with their grandmother and uncle. In August, a home they were hiding in was shot at.

"The only thing that I want is just one hug" from my kids, Mohammad said.

Mohammad said he has repeatedly asked the U.S. government for help, contacted California lawmakers, sent numerous letters to the State Department, and asked for his sons to be evacuated when the U.S. military airlifted many out of the Taliban-controlled country, but they were left behind.

Mohammad said received no responses, and applications for his sons' special immigrant visas are still pending, although he asked for them to be expedited as his sons are in "imminent danger."

Alexandra Zaretsky, a lawyer of the New York-based International Refugee Assistance Project, voiced his concern about the situation and where the government should have intervened.

"At this point, the government has known since mid-August at minimum that these kids are alone and in serious danger, and they didn't take any action to protect them," Zaretsky said.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco against Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Evacuation in Afghanistan
An Afghan father of two and government employee has sued the U.S. government for neglecting his sons' safety in Afghanistan. In this file photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, Afghan passengers board a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 22, 2021. Donald R. Allen/U.S. Air Force/Associated Press

Two years later, Mohammad said he regrets leaving them, and wished he had never worked for the U.S. government given the price he has paid.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mohammad communicates daily with his sons either through calls or texts.

His youngest has broken down crying, asking, "Dad, are they going to kill me?"

"What can I say?" Mohammad asks.

The lawsuit states that "removing his children from Afghanistan, where they are in daily peril, and reuniting them with their only remaining parent is essential to their survival and wellbeing."

Zaretsky said Mohammad is one of thousands of Afghans who worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan and were forced to leave behind close family members to be able to get to safety. Many are still fighting to be reunited with them.

The administration has provided no figures for how many special immigrant visa applicants and their family members are still stuck in Afghanistan more than a month after the U.S. withdrew its troops, and it has yet to take substantial action to protect them, according to the lawsuit.

Mohammad said he wants his sons to know that his work in promoting women's rights in Afghanistan for a program funded by the U.S. government was worth it, even if many of those advances may vanish under the new Taliban government.

He said he also wants them to see "because of my loyal service to the United States," they have the chance to come to a good country like the U.S. where "your future is guaranteed" and they can get a "good education and other rights that human beings should have."

He tries to encourage them not to give up, though he is losing faith in his words.

"I'm giving them hope whenever I am talking to them, but I'm also thinking, 'But is this even possible? Are they ever going to be reunited with me here?'" he said.