- The Washington Times
Friday, August 2, 2019

An Afghan man who earned a green card in the U.S. by working as a translator for American troops during the war was indicted Friday on human smuggling charges, including at least one person who triggered “national security concerns.”

Mujeeb Rahman Saify charged up to $10,000, which covered fraudulent identity documents and plane tickets from Afghanistan to Latin America, where he sought to shepherd them north into the U.S., according to court documents.

Authorities have publicly identified two migrants they say Mr. Saify was responsible for smuggling, including Wasiq Ullah Hedayat, the man flagged for security issued when he was encountered at the U.S. border in Texas. Like Mr. Saify, Mr. Hedayat was a translator for U.S. troops, but was fired in 2014 and was barred from even entering any U.S. base, according to court documents.

He later applied for a visa to the U.S. but was denied.

One of the migrants had applied to come to the U.S. before but had been denied a visa. It’s not clear if that was Mr. Hedayat or the other smuggled migrant, who was not named.

Prosecutors said Mr. Saify worked for a Pakistan-based smuggling network. He charged Mr. Hedayat $10,000 for his journey, while the other migrant, identified in court documents by initials A.H., paid $6,000.

Mr. Saify arranged for his customers to fly to Brazil, where they then made their way up Latin America to the U.S.-Mexico border, and attempted to enter.

In Mr. Hedayat’s case, that meant Brownsville, Texas, where he tried to gain admittance without a visa in January 2017. A judge found he had no right to enter and he was ordered deported.

For his part, Mr. Saify came to the U.S. from Afghanistan on what’s known as a Special Immigrant Visa, which is a program set up to help those who assisted U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to be rewarded with a legal path to citizenship in the U.S.

The visa was supposed to be a lifeline for people whose lives were put in danger because they helped the U.S.

Mr. Saify was an interpreter helping American troops in Afghanistan and won his green card signifying permanent legal status in the U.S. in 2009.

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