JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan didn’t come as a surprise to Sayed Hashimi or his family.
What Hashimi said IS surprising is that his loved ones are still there in hiding nearly a year later.
He said his applications to the Department of State were escalated because his father-in-law is the former commander in chief of the Afghan army.
He said his father-in-law is now retired but had previously been attacked by the Taliban in 2011 and 2012.
“They tried to take him out then, and they couldn’t,” Hashimi said. “But now, since they have control of the whole country, my family members are on their bad list, so my family has been hiding for almost 12 months.”
Hashimi said his family members worked with the United States Agency for International Development for a decade.
Hashimi has filed an I-130 form, which allows a U.S. citizen to petition for a relative to come into the country and sponsor that loved one in turn.
He said they filed and qualified for Special Immigrant Visas last year, but nothing has come from that yet.
He’s also reached out to all of his government representatives.
He said the family was on a flight list in March and had everything in place to get out of the country.
“They gave us a code word. They had headshots ready. They had everything ready. The only thing we had to do was get on a plane,” Hashimi said. “They canceled the flight.”
Hashimi said the most frustrating thing has been the disappointment.
“It’s just like you do everything that you could possibly do and there’s always a block,” Hashimi said.
This isn’t a unique situation.
Immigration attorney Ashwin Sharma said there are at least 500,000 cases of backlogs in the U.S. consulate halting this process.
“There’s really no help available,” Sharma said.
Sharma compared the country’s response to Ukrainian refugees versus Afghan refugees.
He believes there is a bigger issue at hand.
“Unfortunately, the fact is that our immigration policy does discriminate against certain nationalities, the world is noticing this, and it is shameful,” Sharma said.
For now, Hashimi -- like many others -- is hoping and praying to one day reunite with loved ones here in the U.S.