Sending Office: Honorable Jeff Denham
Sent By:
JohnMark.Kolb@mail.house.gov

Dear Colleague,

Please join this bipartisan letter to help save the Karman family and ensure the US is not leaving our allies in danger of the same terrorists that we asked them to fight.

Muhammad Kamran served as an interpreter for US forces in Iraq and worked alongside US forces in multiple capacities for 10 years. Due to his service, he became a top target of the Taliban. He survived an assassination attempt and fled to Pakistan where
he applied for refugee status. His refugee case was deemed credible and accepted by the United Nations. His case was referred to the US for acceptance, but was denied by USCIS for “discretionary reasons” – a very low standard of evidence that is not subject
to judicial review. He is still in Pakistan, being actively hunted and persecuted, and barely survived a stabbing earlier this year. He and his wife have 4 young daughters and the entire family’s lives are in imminent danger.

This letter simply requests that DHS share with Congress the reason for Muhammad Kamran’s denial, and the total number of similar cases that have been denied for discretionary reasons. Translators embedded with US troops help us fulfill our combat
and peacekeeping missions, and make the same sacrifice our men and women in uniform do. If the US is breaking its promise to these individuals, this has serious national security concerns moving forward and jeopardizes the credibility of the US military and
the promises we make to our allies and partners.

Saving the Kamran family?who lost everything to support the U.S. military in Afghanistan and is currently living in hiding and in critical danger in Pakistan?delivers a message to the world that the United States of America keeps our promises to those who
risked their lives to help our country fight terrorism and defend our national security. This letter is critical to provide Congress with much-needed information about this case and others.

Please contact JohnMark Kolb in Rep. Denham’s office (johnmark.kolb@mail.house.gov; x52513) or Devon Ombres in Rep. Raskin’s office (devon.ombres@mail.house.gov)
to sign the letter or get more background information.

Letter Text:

Dear Secretary Nielsen,          

It has come to our attention that Afghan and Iraqi interpreters and translators that served in the US military are being denied refugee status as a matter of discretion. While the safety of U.S. citizens is paramount, improperly handling these cases could
restrict our ability to recruit these positions and provide serious national security consequences. For example, Muhammad Kamran, who served with the US military in Afghanistan and in support of the Global War on Terror for more than 10 years, was recently
denied both refugee status and Humanitarian Parole. Based on what is known of his circumstances, we are concerned that USCIS is not appropriately considering his decade of service and request to know the reason for the denial of his refugee application.

Mr. Kamran worked from 2004 – 2014 for the US Navy, US Army, DAI under USAID, and later the United Nations. He was trusted by his supervisors who praised his work ethic and dedication to serving the US mission in Afghanistan. After receiving multiple threats
from the Taliban and surviving an assassination attempt, Mr. Kamran fled to Pakistan. Mr. Kamran filed a refugee case which was denied by the USCIS Refugee Affairs Division in February 2016 as a matter of discretion for unstated “security concerns.” However,
there is already a clear standard for denying security threats under INA § 212(a)(2) & (3), and cases of legitimate security concerns are required to be denied outright on these grounds alone. The denial shows that USCIS accepts Mr. Kamran’s documentation
of his work for the US military and that his life and his family’s lives are in imminent danger as a result of his work. That it was denied as a matter of
discretion for security reasons is concerning. Discretion, which has a very low standard of evidence and is not subject to judicial review, should not arbitrarily be used to deny a refugee applicant much less someone with years of faithful service
with the US military. USCIS compounded their denial of his refugee application by denying a request for Humanitarian Parole of not only himself but his wife and daughters, the youngest of whom is only five years, claiming that even she was a security concern.
His brother and sister and their families were granted refugee status, are currently living in the United States, and petitioned to care for his young daughters.

Since the denials of their refugee and Humanitarian Parole applications, Mr. Kamran and his family have suffered severely in Pakistan. He is still being actively hunted by the Taliban, faces regular, violent police raids, and was stabbed and nearly died
of complications earlier this year. Mr. Kamran’s case has attracted significant public attention with almost 50,000 people signing a petition in support of re-opening his case. Mr. Kamran’s life and the lives of his wife and four daughters are all in jeopardy
due to the work that Mr. Kamran did for US forces in Afghanistan. The US military relies on assistance from local translators and interpreters to carry out its mission, assistance which will not be forthcoming in future conflicts should we not follow through
on our promises to protect those who we put in harm’s way.

We respectfully request the following actions:

  1. Within 15 days, disclose to Congress the discretionary information used to deny Mr. Kamran’s refugee case.
  2. Within 30 days, provide data on (a) how many principle applicants for refugee cases have been Afghan and Iraqi US military interpreters or former interpreters; (b) how many of those were denied for discretionary security reasons; and (c) what percentage
    of US refugee applications overall have been denied for discretionary security reasons.

Thank you for your prompt response to these requests. 

Sincerely,

Jeff Denham             Jamie Raskin

 

 

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