Former interpreter for US troops in Afghanistan detained by CBP, threatened with deportation

Former interpreter for US troops in Afghanistan detained by CBP, threatened with deportation
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A former translator for U.S. forces in Afghanistan was detained Friday in Houston's airport by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and threatened with deportation to Kabul, Afghanistan, along with his wife and five children.

Four Texas Democrats contacted CBP on Friday on behalf of Mohasif Motawakil, a 48-year-old from Afghanistan who served with U.S. troops as a translator from 2012-2013, and later worked as a U.S. contractor in the region, the Texas immigrant advocacy group RAICES reported. The detention occurred hours after the family's arrival from Kabul.

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Texas Reps. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettOn The Money: Senate rejects border declaration in rebuke to Trump | Dems press Mnuchin on Trump tax returns | Waters says Wells Fargo should fire its CEO Dems press Mnuchin on Trump tax returns Congress must break its addiction to unjust tax extenders MORE (D) and Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroJulian Castro hints at brother Joaquin's Senate run Dems prepare next steps after Trump's veto Joaquin Castro closing in on 2020 Senate bid: report MORE (D) made calls to CBP on Motawakil's behalf, the group reported, while Reps. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeTrio of NFL players intern on Capitol Hill as part of league program House panel approves controversial changes to Violence Against Women Act Trump faces growing pressure over Boeing safety concerns MORE (D) and Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenPelosi on Trump impeachment: 'You're wasting your time' without GOP buy-in Trump issues emergency order grounding Boeing 737 Max jets The Memo: GOP seizes on Pelosi's position on impeachment MORE (D) arrived at the airport in support of the family.

"I've urged that Mohasif Motawakil & his family be swiftly granted access to their legal counsel. Remain deeply troubled they’ve been confined. How unjust that this Afghan family, who helped our military, is in same airport as counsel—& yet have been walled off from one another," Doggett tweeted Friday evening.

Motawakil and his family are apparently being threatened with deportation over the opening of sealed medical records by a member of his family, which raised concerns among U.S. officials that the documents could be fakes.

A CBP official said the agency could not confirm whether Motawakil had made contact with his attorney. RAICES wrote Friday on Twitter that Motawakil remains in detention, separated from the group who arrived at the airport to represent him.

"The father remains detained and his wife and children were allowed into the U.S. pending the outcome of his proceedings. Due to the restrictions of the Privacy Act, U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not discuss the details of individual cases," a CBP spokesman wrote in an email to The Hill.

"[A]pparently they opened an envelope w/medical records that they were told not to open. For that, they are being deported. Not only that, CBP won’t let us provide legal counsel," RAICES wrote Friday evening.

A request for comment from RAICES on Saturday concerning whether they had made contact with Motawakil was not immediately returned.

The group posted Friday night that six members of the family had been released and booked in a hotel in Houston, adding that the children were "traumatized" and hoping for their father's return.

"The mom and 5 kids are being paroled imminently," RAICES wrote. "Huge thanks to @JacksonLeeTX18 & @RepAlGreen who came to the airport and to @RepLloydDoggett @JoaquinCastrotx who made calls. We can't let up. @CBP are holding on to the father. They should release him asap."

— Updated 12:05 p.m.