It’s a human interest story, of sorts, but there are so many strange aspects to it that once the facts are fully known, if they ever are, it may turn out to have been something else altogether. Abdul Wasi Safi, a former soldier in the Afghan army, was caught crossing illegally into the United States from Mexico and is now being held in Texas. Now the far-Left Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Race Resentment) is pushing for Old Joe Biden to give Wasi, as he is known, a presidential pardon. Why was someone who fought for our Afghan allies trying to sneak into the country? And why is Jackson Lee, of all people, who has never shown any particular interest in our troops or their allies, speaking out for him? All that and much more remains unclear.
The more one learns about it, the curiouser this story gets. The Texas Tribune reported Friday that Jackson Lee is “demanding the release of a former Afghan soldier seeking asylum in the U.S. who is being held at a Texas detention center after he attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border to reunite with his brother.” Nor does she simply want him to be released: In order to make sure that Abdul Wasi Safi “begins his life in the U.S. without a criminal record,” she “sent a letter to the White House asking the Biden administration to pardon the Afghan veteran for any crimes related to his crossing the border seeking asylum.”
Jackson Lee held a news conference on Friday with Wasi’s brother, Sami-ullah Safi, who lives in the U.S. now. Of Wasi’s detention in Texas, she said, “This is a mistake that needs to be corrected immediately.” Sami-ullah Safi added, “I’m calling on Biden’s administration to release my brother. He believed in this mission of this country in Afghanistan. That’s why he fought alongside the United States Special Forces…to eliminate terrorism.”
The Tribune explains that Wasi “worked as an intelligence officer in the Afghan National Security Forces alongside U.S. troops. He fled Afghanistan in 2021 as the Taliban began targeting citizens who had previously helped the U.S. during the decadeslong [sic] war. Wasi crossed three continents to make it to the Texas border, where he hoped to meet his brother, who is now a naturalized U.S. citizen. Instead, he was arrested and has been in custody since Sept. 30.”
Now, wait a minute. Why did Wasi have to do any of that? If he helped U.S. forces in Afghanistan, why couldn’t he enter the U.S. with no problem, legally? On Sept. 3, 2021, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced “Operation Allies Welcome, our unprecedented, historic effort to resettle in the United States tens of thousands of Afghan nationals, many of whom assisted the United States and many of whom are vulnerable women and girls.”
Just two and a half weeks later, however, Mayorkas explained that most of the Afghans who were brought over here after the catastrophically botched withdrawal from Afghanistan weren’t holders of Special Immigrant Visas (SIV), which were issued to people who helped the U.S. in Afghanistan. “Of the over 60,000 individuals who have been brought into the United States” at that time, Mayorkas said, “and I will give you approximate figures and I will verify them, approximately 7 percent have been United States citizens. Approximately 6 percent have been lawful permanent residents. Approximately 3 percent have been individuals who are in receipt of the Special Immigrant Visas.”
So instead of breezing in with eager help from U.S. officials, Abdul Wasi Safi thought he had to sneak in. Did he try to go through official channels and was refused? If so, on what grounds? Or is there something about his background that Sheila Jackson Lee is not telling us? Sneaking into the country from Mexico is a strange way for someone who professes to be an ally of the United States and to respect American law to come in.
Without explaining any of this, Jackson Lee wrote this to Old Joe about our Afghan allies: “When their service exposes them to credible threats, we must redouble our effort to keep our word because doing so also protects our troops stationed around the world today and into the future.” Jackson Lee said, “I’m the last person that wants to jeopardize the national security of this nation, or to jeopardize any security for the American people, but I think it is important to try to be fair across the board.”
Well, great. It is good to be fair. But it’s also good to know what we’re dealing with. And when it comes to the odd case of Abdul Wasi Safi, what we don’t know is far greater than what we do know. Will Sheila Jackson Lee give us any answers?