Omaha couple frantic to free Afghan family members

WOWT 6 News Live at 10
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:17 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Afghan Americans are doling out thousands of dollars desperate to get their families out of the war-torn country.

“Every time my phone rings and it’s from Afghanistan by the time I pick it up, I’m shaking because who knows what kind of news I’m going to get,” said Feroz Mohmand.

Feroz Mohmand and his wife, Ghargasta Katawazai, are still trying to get their families out of Afghanistan. This was her plea two months ago after the Taliban takeover.

“If anyone’s watching me in Afghanistan — men, women, or children — I just want to tell them my heart is with you, my prayers are with you; be strong. We are trying our best as much as we can,” Katawazai said.

Mohmand and Katawazai are both high-profile Afghan Americans — Mohmand is a press aid to former President Hamid Karzai, and Katawazai is one of the first female members of parliament — making their families a Taliban target.

“My family is moving almost every two to three weeks. They are not in their own house. They don’t have their own pillows to sleep on; sometimes they don’t have food,” Mohmand said.

They have been trying numerous times to get their parents and the families of their brothers and sisters out of the country — 20 people total.

“When we had boots on the ground at the airport,” Mohmand said. “We tried a lot to get our family evacuated, but unfortunately all efforts failed.”

They’ve turned to humanitarian parole, a process that allows people into the U.S. temporarily under emergency.

“We signed a lot of papers,” Mohmand said.

And they doled out a lot of money: nearly $12,000 has been paid to the U.S. government.

“Each applicant charge is $575 to pay for the USCIS processing fee, which is not sure if the case will approve or not, but you submit that fee for 20 individuals,” Mohmand said.

Unsure of when they’ll get answers, their money and hope is now in the hands of U.S. immigration.

“Now, it’s in the bucket of bureaucracy process, and nobody knows when. No, it’s a gamble game,” Mohmand said.

It’s a game they’re willing to play.

”We do not have any other option. This is like the last thing,” Mohmand said. “Then every morning, we wake up and check our email to see if there is any good news.”

The couple received an email from USCIS earlier this month confirming the applications had been received, but no timeline was given in terms of when they can expect an answer.

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