Interpreter for U.S. Military in Afghanistan Seeks Asylum in Iowa

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IOWA FALLS, Iowa  —  Starting in 2007, Zalmay Niazy began working as an interpreter for the United States Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

“It was a very good career that I had and I’m very proud that I helped the United States Armed Forces,” said Niazy.

But putting his life on the line for America was something that did not sit well with the Taliban.

“The Taliban and the bad guys were always threatening me and my family and they were always giving us a hard time, and they kidnapped my uncle from the house and they killed him because I was an interpreter,” said Niazy.

Niazy came to America in December of 2014, seeking political asylum. But despite his best efforts, he’s run into a roadblock.

This is why Niazy brought his situation to Senator Charles Grassley’s attention at a town hall meeting in Iowa Falls. At the meeting, Niazy said, “I came here, sir. I applied for political asylum. I hired a lawyer in Des Moines and…he’s going through all the process and from the last two years and four months I haven’t heard anything from the asylum process from there, and I always contact them. I always send them and they just give me a one year work permit and it expires.”

Senator Grassley responded by saying to Niazy, who was standing right next to him, “You’ve hired a lawyer. I wish I knew you before you hired a lawyer. I could have saved you a lot of money, because usually your lawyer comes to us and we do the work for them,” said Grassley.

Senator Grassley also said a new executive order, which President Trump is expected to issue soon, should make things easier for Niazy and for other people in similar situations.

“They were left out of the original order that President Trump put out because it wasn’t carefully drafted, so it’s my understanding on the drafting of this one that they’re going to make sure that people like you (Niazy) can come to this country legally and…will be able to get in. That will be pretty clear,” said Grassley.

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