Nassir Ahmad, Philanthropic Advisor, came to the United States in 2014 through the Special Immigrant Visa program after serving as a combat interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
How are you feeling at the one-year anniversary mark?
I feel great because within one year, we have a lot of accomplishments. A majority of Afghans we resettled are almost self-sufficient. They’re in permanent housing. Their kids are enrolled in school. They’re receiving public benefits. We’ve found them employment. For example, at our Northern Virginia office, a lot of our clients are working at Dulles Airport. They’re making good money. They can support their families. A lot of good has happened.
When that first plane landed at Dulles, it was chaos. There were people with one set of clothes. Many people were there without their families. They had to leave their loved ones behind. I met a mom with one child who had to leave her breastfeeding baby in Afghanistan. I asked her what I could do to help, and she said, “There’s nothing.” We sat there, crying.
When I remember that time, and where we are right now, there are big changes in their lives.
Many Afghans still have an uncertain legal status, which is why Congress needs to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.
They’re stressed because they don’t know what their futures are. Everyone I talk to, they say, “Well, I got my house, I got my benefits, I’m living and working. What is my future? When can I get my green card to bring my wife and kids here?”
I hope this act passes and they can get their permanent status, and from that they can sponsor their loved ones to be reunited in the United States.
It’s very hard to live without your family, especially without your wife and kids. I’m one example—I experienced that. I was here for three and a half years without my wife and three kids. In that time, Afghanistan was safe enough that they could live in Kabul and I could support them from here.
They could live their life, but I couldn’t live without them. Every day was a year. Every month was ten years. It took me three and a half years to get them there and when I received my family, it was the best feeling. Everything was relieved. Since then, I’m living my dreams.
Right now, when I see Afghan allies that we evacuated from Afghanistan in that situation, it really hurts me because I’ve been through that. I cannot imagine what they’re going through, because right now in Afghanistan, the situation is worse than it was when my family was there.