SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - Alex Joshua, a student at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, has started a petition on a section of the White House website known as “We The People” to grant Afghan translator Sami Kazikhani entry into the United States.
Kazikhani worked undercover with U.S. troops to fight against the Taliban. When American forces withdrew from the region, his cover was blown, and theTaliban placed a bounty on him. Fearing for his life, he quickly married his wife and fled to Turkey and eventually Germany.
However, Kazikhani still has not received acceptance into the American special immigrant visa he applied for. Germany, citing an overflow of immigrants, has threatened to send his family back to Afghanistan, which it now labels a “safe” country due to the diminished Taliban. The translator and his family would likely be in mortal danger should he return.
Joshua says he first became aware of Kazikhani’s situation from a Fox News report in November by writer Perry Chiaramonte and a follow-up piece in June. The rising high school junior decided to start the petition, which now has 350 signatures, and reached out to Chiaramonte via Twitter. The reporter incorporated information about Joshua’s initiative in his Fox News article.
When asked why he got involved, Joshua responded: “I just can’t believe how a man risks his life for Americans, saves U.S. troops, gives us better relations with tribal leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan, and now can’t find a safe place to live.”
Joshua says he understands the very real fears of terrorism and securing our borders with legal immigration, but pointed to “hypocrisy when it comes to the Syrian refugees” in reference to President Obama’s desire to increase the number of Syrians admitted to the country amidst that country’s civil war.
Joshua points out 14,000 translators and people similar to Kazikhani applied for the special immigrant visa with only 3,500 accepted. Any petition with 100,000 signatures will receive a required response from the White House.
“The Fox News article certainly generated some attention, but maybe a politician will take it up or word will get around and it can gain some momentum," Joshua added. "In Mr. Kazikhani’s case, he deserves a safe place to live in the United States for his contributions to this country."