Latifa Sharifi, a women’s rights lawyer, frantically headed to the gates of Kabul airport to escape with her three children while the Taliban took control of the capital of Afghanistan. Her three-year-old son stumbled. He was almost trampled.
Sharifi and the children never arrived at the airport that August 15th.
It is now hopeless and hidden, just days before the deadline for the U.S. military exit from Afghanistan. Her younger sister, Atefa Sharifi, in Frisco, told the family story and shared the despair they feel, especially after Thursday’s deadly suicide attack at the airport.
“She’s so desperate,” the sister said. “He thinks he is behind and soon the troops will leave. After this last attack, she is so heartbroken. “
The younger sister left Afghanistan in 2013 on a coveted special immigrant visa for those who had worked in the U.S. government. She had been working in the consulate section of the U.S. embassy in Kabul. That visa led him to American citizenship and to the security of his own future.
Now, “I ask for the life of my sister and her children,” she said. “Please, please don’t let her kill you there. He put his life at risk. “
Other lawyers and human rights groups have taken up the case of Latifa Sharifi, a well-known human rights worker for women and children in Afghanistan. Lawyers and his American family are pushing for a humanitarian step for Sharifi and are pushing his case with the U.S. State Department and the European Union, as well as officials from the Italian, French, Spanish and Swiss governments. said the family.
In Dallas, the family’s immigration attorney, Christopher Carlston, is pushing several fronts, including a petition for Sharifi’s humanitarian parole with U.S. citizenship and immigration services.
“We’re not in the wonderful step where it’s been passed,” the Dallas attorney said. “Even if it’s approved, we have the hard step of figuring out how to take it to the airport.”
The Afghan human rights lawyer is also on a list with the State Department of Afghans at Risk. “Apparently, their accumulation is 200,000 for evacuations,” Carlston said.
Meanwhile, Atefa Sharifi in Frisco said her older sister has received many threats from the Taliban. “His life became very vulnerable,” he said. “He had to leave home and move from place to place.”
And her youngest son is injured while trying to escape to the airport. Frisco’s relatives were unsure of the extent of the boy’s injuries. Due to the prominence of the sister, they were allowed to use her full name despite the danger that the Taliban would learn her situation.
Around the world, others are frantically trying to take out family members, from interpreters who helped the U.S. military to those who worked with nonprofits in building the U.S. economy. country or defending women from domestic abuse. Afghanistan, a country of about 40 million, is the source of a growing diaspora: it is estimated that two million Afghans now live in neighboring Pakistan alone.
Many have come to the United States with the special immigrant visa program for those who worked for the U.S. military or government. For 15 years, the SIV has provided Afghans with a proven track record of helping the U.S. government achieve a path to permanent residency in the United States, according to the DC-based Institute for Migration Policy. As of June this year, nearly 77,000 Afghans had immigrated to the United States with these visas.
A former U.S. Army multilingual interpreter who lives in Irving and became an SIV also tries to get his wife and young son out. He asked that only his first name Hamid be used because he fears that the use of his surname could endanger his wife. He worked for the US Army.
Hamid left Afghanistan in 2015 under the SIV program. He married his wife on a trip back to his homeland in 2017.
“If you’ve seen the news, they’re looking for those people who used to work with the United States,” said Hamid, who now works as a truck driver. “I am just worried about my family. Every day I cry for them. I don’t trust these people. “
A month ago, in July, he was in Afghanistan to finalize the roles of his wife and two-year-old son, which showed critical documents such as the couple’s marriage certificate with U.S. officials.
Dallas immigration attorney Michael Canton ruled in favor of the case. He went to Human Rights First and hung the Afghan documents in a place for a possible evacuation. But he still hasn’t known.
The Human Rights First site has a sober warning: “This does not guarantee an evacuation. This list will be handed over to the US government for cross-referencing needs. “
Hamid calls his family twice a day to make sure they are safe. He has difficulty sleeping and eating, he said. Now her little one calls her Daddy in her native language when she hears his voice over the phone.
She wants her daughter to have a bright future. “I don’t want her to be uneducated,” the young father said.
Maybe her daughter could become a doctor, the father said, fulfilling her own dream.
“I tell them they have to be brave.”