Swalwell to have Afghan interpreter as guest at tonight's 'State of the Union' address

Mohammad Usafi served alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan

Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) will have as his guest at President Obama's "State of the Union" speech tonight an Afghan interpreter who served alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The guest, Mohammad Usafi, waited nearly four years for a special immigrant visa, Swalwell said, and has now moved to the Bay Area.

Tragically, Usafi's father was killed and a brother was kidnapped by the Taliban because of his role as an interpreter for U.S. forces. After petitioning by friends, advocates, and members of Congress, including Swalwell, Mohammad's family was granted humanitarian parole by immigration authorities to join him in the U.S. last month.

"I'm thrilled to welcome Mohammad to Washington and bring greater attention to his story and the stories of thousands of Afghan interpreters still waiting for the visas they were promised," said Swalwell, who represents a large Afghan community and met with military interpreters when he visited Afghanistan.

"It's a great relief that today Mohammad and his family live in the Bay Area, but more must be done and can be done in a bipartisan fashion to help interpreters like Mohammad," Swalwell added.

The State of the Union address falls on the exact one year anniversary of the date Mohammad arrived in the U.S. Since moving to the Bay Area, Mohammad has found a steady job and has supported his family since their arrival.

Swalwell's staff is currently helping the family move to Fremont, which is part of Swalwell's congressional district which has a large Afghan population.

On Wednesday, the day after the State of the Union, Mohammad will participate in a briefing on improvements needed to this visa program, such as allowing families of Afghan interpreters who come under threat to come to the U.S. and adding more visa slots.

Mohammad served alongside American troops in Afghanistan as an interpreter beginning in 2008. His father was killed by the Taliban because of Mohammad's service.

Even after this tragedy, Mohammad continued to serve for three more years until 2012. But, in 2013 his three year-old brother was captured by the Taliban. The family was forced to pay their life-savings of $35,000 to the Taliban as ransom. The Taliban still threatened to kill another family member.

Three and a half years after he started his application process for an SIV, Mohammad was granted his visa and came to the U.S.

Swalwell was one of several Members of Congress who was contacted by veterans who served with Mohammad to help bring his family to the Bay Area. Then, almost one year after Mohammad arrived, the State Department enabled his mother and his seven siblings to join him.

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Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 19, 2015 at 9:54 am

Wonderful to hear that the people who have risked their lives for American troops can find a safe haven at last.

Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 10:44 am

"Political Correctness is a doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t*** by the clean end."

Like this comment
Posted by Daveg
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 20, 2015 at 11:45 am

Daveg is a registered user.

I’m pleased that Eric Swalwell is going to have an Afghan interpreter as a guest at tonight’s ‘State of the Union’ address. It is very interesting that the guest, Mohammad Usafi, waited nearly four years for a special immigrant visa, yet Swalwell apparently refuses to take a stand regarding the illegal immigration that continues across the border of Mexico into the USA. Why is it acceptable to consider blanket exemption for those that have illegally entered this country, yet those who follow the rules are subjected to long delays and specific requirement to become USA citizens?

1 person likes this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 20, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Nice to see that not everyone with the name "Mohammad" is against us. This guy really sacrificed a lot to help our armed forces and I applaude him.

To Daveg's point, I agree. Our immigration system was screwed up before and Obama made it worse with his amnesty program. His program made fools out of everyone who works in border patrol and ICE. Why should they do their jobs anymore if you can sneak in here and be accepted with open arms?
And what about all those people in other countries who filled out their forms, paid their fees and are patiently waiting in line?
They now have egg on their faces because Obama has demonstrated that it's easier, cheaper and faster to make to Mexico and sneak across.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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