As many as 12,000 Afghan nationals who provided key intelligence information to the CIA were allowed to come into the United States about two years ago when the Biden administration staged a sudden and chaotic withdrawal from their home country.
Although they benefited from work permits at the time, members of the so-called “Zero Units” are now dealing with the impending expiration of those permits … and lots of uncertainty about what the future holds.
A feeling of hopelessness
Nasir Andar not only served on the force, but he’s now working with a nonprofit group aimed at helping other veterans in tough situations.
Across the community, he describes a sense of despair, adding: “They don’t know what to do. We are trying to guide them and boost their morale.”
The majority of those welcomed into the United States have not been able to obtain special visas, which means they can’t even apply for green cards.
Pleading with the White House
Gen. Mohammad Shah, a former Afghan commander who led these Afghan troops, is reaching out directly to U.S. officials in hopes of gaining some clarity for the thousands of increasingly desperate individuals.
“Without your help, we are trapped,” he wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
He said that “there have been cases of suicide” among those who haven’t been able to find answers to fundamental questions about their safety and ability to provide for their families.
Shah argued that these individuals cooperated with the CIA with the expectation that they would receive legal status upon arrival in the United States.
At this point, the veterans have few options other than taking authorities at their word that they’ll be able to renew their current status for two more years. But the question remains: What happens then?