An Afghan family was detained by U.S. immigration officials at Los Angeles International Airport where they arrived to catch a connecting flight to Seattle.
The mother and father, along with their three children ages 7, 6 and 8 months, were heading to Seattle, where they had planned to resettle, but were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Attorneys have filed a petition seeking the release of the Afghan family. International Refugee Assistance Project argued the family was eligible to stay in the U.S. because the father had been employed by the U.S. government in Afghanistan and they were approved for relocation after extreme vetting.
Talia Inlender, an attorney from Public Counsel, said it was "extremely unusual if not entirely unique" for someone who holds this special visa to be detained upon arrival. She further added that the detention of the family “shocks the conscience.” The family had arrived in the U.S. on Special Immigrant Visas that can be granted to those who have served the U.S. military as drivers, interpreters, etc.
“These are the people we should be putting out the welcome mat for. They’re putting their own lives and families at risk, and instead of providing them that welcome mat we are detaining them,” she said.
Inlender further added that the father had been taken to one detention center and the mother and children to another.
Soon after the incident, U.S. district judge Josephine Staton issued a temporary restraining order restricting the government from removing the family from California.
An ICE spokesman said the agency would fully comply with the judge’s decision but declined to say why the family had been detained.
“The mother cannot read or speak English and her children are aged 7 years, 6 years and 8 months old. The balance of equities tip in their favor and the injunction is in the public interest,” read the order.
The family’s details and names were not released because the lawmakers were not granted permission to make them public due to security reasons.
President Donald Trump rolled out executive order just days after assuming office that banned people from seven Muslim majority countries to enter the United States. However, Afghanistan was not among the countries listed on the restricted travel ban.
Visas in hand, Afghan family detained en route to Washington state - https://t.co/kO6LDQHyB4— EdBrander (@ed_brander) March 6, 2017
BBC News - Afghan family of five detained in US despite valid entry visas https://t.co/MKhbC7rdz9— C K (@thecdkuno) March 6, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Brian Snyder