Thousands of people from Afghanistan languish in “jailhouse” US detention centres

Thousands of people who fled the Taliban have been languishing in detention centres in the US, awaiting their fate to be decided by immigration authorities.

According to Al Jazeera, many have strong ties to the US, having worked with the US-backed government in Afghanistan or with US military forces. But because they were not able to secure passage out of Afghanistan during the US withdrawal in August 2021, they have been unable to access the limited pathways to legal immigration available.

As a result, they have been forced to make dangerous journeys to the US-Mexico border, where they have been detained by US immigration authorities.

Those who have been detained have described the conditions in US detention centres as overcrowded, unsanitary, and inhumane. They have also reported being mistreated by guards.

A person who has been called A, to protect identity, said that he has been detained in a US immigration detention centre for six months. He said that the conditions in the centre are “like a jailhouse” and that he has been treated “like a criminal.”

A’s wife, who was also detained, has since been released. But A remains in detention, and he is worried about her health.

“The responsibility of her happiness is on me,” he said. “I brought her here, and now I can’t even look after her health.”

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Another man, Akbar, said that his brother is also being held in a US immigration detention centre. Akbar said that his brother worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on construction projects in Afghanistan. But after the Taliban takeover, his brother was targeted by the Taliban and forced to flee the country.

Akbar said that his brother’s wife and children were also detained, but they were released after about nine days. But his brother remains in detention, and Akbar is worried about his safety.

“We thought we were coming to a humane society,” Akbar said. “But we have been treated like criminals and animals.”