Afghan Family Detained At LAX Were ReleasedTop Stories

March 07, 2017 09:32
Afghan Family Detained At LAX Were Released

According to the U.S. government and the family's attorneys, an Afghan family of five who traveled to United States on the special visas and were detained by immigration officials at the Los Angeles airport were released from custody on Monday.The mother, father and their three young sons, including a baby, arrived at the airport on Thursday for a connecting flight to the Washington state, the place where they planned to resettle.

Instead, the U.S. immigration officials detained them and split them up. They planned to send the mother and children to a detention center in the Texas, but the lawyers intervened over the weekend and got a federal judge to quash the transfer.

Homeland Security officials have not said why the family was held, while immigrant advocates asserted in the court petition that there was "absolutely no justification whatsoever."

Government officials said in a federal court hearing on Monday that the family was given back their passports and visas and will be interviewed on April 5th in Seattle to determine if they are eligible to use those visas to remain in the United States. Lawyers said that the family never should have been subjected to this treatment after going through the more than yearlong process to obtain the special immigrant visas, which are given to the foreigners who work for U.S. military in their countries, often risking their lives.

Josh Busch, a spokesman with the Public Counsel, said that their identities would remain protected for now, citing potential danger to them because of the father's work for U.S. government in the Afghanistan.

Over the weekend, Staton issued a temporary order blocking the federal authorities from removing the family from California, and setting Monday's hearing in the Santa Ana.

In the court, the family's lawyers wanted judge to require the U.S. to review the family's case sooner. But the government attorneys, who spoke in the court via telephone.

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A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to provide more details about the case. A spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which screens the travelers at airports, also declined to discuss about the family's situation.

Earlier on Monday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in a statement said that the agency would comply with the judge's order "and all other legal requirements."

The family's lawyers said that, after being stopped at the Los Angeles International Airport, the father was held at the detention center while his wife and young sons were held at a hotel. In addition to detaining the family, Customs and Border Protection prevented the attorneys from communicating with them, lawyers said in the court filings.

The case comes as President Donald Trump is stepping up immigration enforcement at the U.S. airports, on the border of Mexico and in many other local communities. On Monday, Trump signed a reworked order of his previously blocked travel ban barring new visas for the citizens from six Muslim-majority countries. Afghanistan is not one of those six countries.

Immigrant advocates have decried the Trump's efforts to block visitors from overseas and ramp up deportations of immigrants in the country illegally. On Monday, advocates in the Los Angeles called for a rally to support a man who was arrested by the immigration agents after dropping off his daughter at school.

Mrudula Duddempudi.

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