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Immigration Law

Will There Be Justice For Zee?

Randy Evans, June 16, 2021

"Zalmay Niazy, now in his 30s, is not just another of the countless foreign-born people who dream of living, working and raising families in the United States. He is a native of Afghanistan and served our nation during wartime, just as surely as did the hundreds of thousands of American soldiers, sailors, Marines and Air Force personnel who were deployed there over the past 20 years as part of the Pentagon’s Operation Enduring Freedom.

Niazy was hired by the U.S. military in 2007, when he was 19, to be an interpreter for American soldiers. This was not a paper-shuffling desk job. Niazy was wounded in the line of duty by bombings and gunfire. His uncle was murdered by the Taliban, the Afghan terrorist group. And he and his family were threatened by the Taliban because he was working for the U.S. military.

After his military job ended, Niazy joined a private company in Afghanistan. In late 2014, during a business trip to the United States, he learned the Taliban was again threatening his family — and it would not be safe for him to return home.

Niazy traveled to Iowa Falls, where a cousin lives. He applied for political asylum so he could remain here. He waited for the federal government’s decision for six years.

Finally, last month, a letter arrived from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security informing him his request has been denied. The reason: He told immigration officials he had spoken with a member of the Taliban when he was 9 years old.

Niazy explained to the Iowa Falls Times-Citizen last month: “They grabbed me by the neck and said, ‘You go home and bring bread or we will burn your house.’”

Fearing the consequences if he refused, the boy did as he was told.

Even though he later worked for the U.S. military for a half-dozen years, that encounter at age 9 led U.S. immigration officials to conclude he had engaged in terrorist activities.

Niazy’s lawyer, Keith Herting of Des Moines, told the Times-Citizen the allegation is ludicrous.

“It’s galling that this person who put his own life in danger on multiple occasions, he had family members who died as a result of him working to support U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and the response the government is giving him is despicable,” Herting said.

Niazy’s case will be heard on June 28 by an immigration judge in Omaha, NE."