Feds drop charges against Afghan soldier trying to claim asylum in Texas

Feds drop charges against Afghan soldier trying to claim asylum in Texas

Soldier

HOUSTON, Texas — A former Afghan soldier who crossed multiple continents trying to escape the Taliban’s revenge and reconnect with his brother in Houston put a potential criminal record behind him after charges of illegally entering the U.S. were dropped Tuesday.

[An Afghan soldier fleeing the Taliban spent months reaching the U.S. to request asylum. He was arrested at the Texas border.]

An assistant U.S. attorney asked a judge this week to dismiss — “in the interest of justice” — the case against Abdul Wasi Safi, or Wasi, who was arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border last year. The judge agreed, according to court records.

Wasi faced up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 if he pleaded guilty. But Wasi did not want a criminal record starting his life over in the U.S. — especially after his service in connection with the country.

Wasi, a former Afghan special forces officer, crossed the U.S.-Mexico border near Eagle Pass on Sept. 30. Border Patrol apprehended Wasi and charged him with a criminal misdemeanor for failure to present with the necessary documents to remain in the U.S. He spent nearly four months at a detention center under U.S. Marshals custody in Eden Detention Center.

The charges were dropped after months of publicity and a bipartisan congressional effort to free him. Wasi’s case was first reported by The Texas Tribune.

Wasi remains in border patrol custody, but is now free to restart his journey toward asylum, according to his attorneys. His legal team hopes he will be released and reunited with his brother in Houston, according to his attorneys.

This story will be updated.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/01/24/abdul-wasi-safi-charges-dropped/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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