An Afghan man living in California is suing the U.S. to reunite with his sons who are still in Afghanistan after American forces withdrew in August.
The International Refugee Assistance Project filed a lawsuit in a California federal court against the State Department on behalf of Mohammad, whose 9- and 11-year-old sons are still in the country.
Mohammad has only been identified by his first name for security reasons, according to The Associated Press.
“Right now, my greatest wish is to hug my kids again,” Mohammad said in a statement. “I ask that the United States government stand by its promises to Afghans like me who supported the U.S. mission and protect the lives of my children.”
Mohammad travelled across Afghanistan between 2016 and 2019 to promote women’s and children’s rights under a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-led initiative, according to the complaint.
The complaint states that his family received repeated death threats from the Taliban because of his work, prompting him to apply for the Special Immigrant Visa program in May 2019. He travelled to California a few months later for business.
While in California, the Taliban left threatening notes at his former home in Kabul. He then decided to seek asylum in the U.S. and planned on bringing his family at a later time.
But in October 2020, the Taliban found his family and threatened his wife, despite them moving to different homes multiple times in 2019, according to the court document. She died of a heart attack that was caused by the “stress of this encounter.”
Mohammad was approved for the SIV in January 2021 and asked for applications for their sons to be expedited because they were in “imminent danger,” according to the complaint.
He allegedly filed an emergency request asking the State Department to evacuate his children in August after bullets struck the home they were in, but he has yet to receive a response.
The complaint alleges that the State Department has failed to fulfill its duties to evacuate his children under the Afghan Allies Protection Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. He is asking the court to order the State Department to respond to his petition for his children, including travel assistance for them at the minimum.
“Removing his children from Afghanistan, where they are in daily peril, and reuniting them with their only remaining parent is essential to their survival and wellbeing,” the complaint states.
When reached for comment by The Hill, a State Department spokesperson said: “As a general matter, we do not comment on pending litigation.”
The Biden Administration faced intense scrutiny for its chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Following the Taliban takeover of Kabul, thousands of people rushed to the airport to flee the group's rule including Americans and Afghan allies.
The administration has said that around 125,000 people were evacuated, the majority of which were Afghans at risk. However, it isn’t exactly clear how many were SIV holders.