NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – The attorney for three Afghan soldiers who were caught trying to cross into Canada at the Rainbow Bridge says his clients are seeking asylum in the United States because returning to their own country would endanger their lives.
The soldiers being held at the federal detention center in Batavia had a hearing Wednesday in front of an immigration judge. Their attorney Matthew Borowski says each legally entered the United States as part of a training mission with the U.S. government at Camp Edwards in Cape Cod, but the slipped away last week.
Now they are being held without bond and Borowski says his clients are being treated like prisoners. Each appeared in court wearing blue scrubs and black sneakers.
“They just don’t want to go back to Afghanistan. They don’t want to die,” Borowski said. “They’re not charged with any criminal charge. These are just immigration violations. They’re just charged with being here without a valid visa.”
But during the hearing, the government listed evidence against the soldiers, including an I-213 form, a record of deportable alien, an I-94 form showing their arrival and departure to or from the United States, and a sworn statement given by each man when they were caught at the Rainbow Bridge. It’s unclear what each document details.
Borowski argued, “They were allies of the U.S. They fought side-by-side with our soldiers for many years. They’ve done a lot for the Americans in Afghanistan. Now that their lives are threatened, they’re just asking for safe haven.”
For now, the men remain locked up surrounded by barbed wire with guards at the gate. At the hearing, it was determined the officers would need to return to court next week. An attorney needs more time to review evidence and charges.
“I’m hopeful that after they review it more thoroughly, we’ll come back here next week and have an agreement with the government on the setting of a bond or a recognizance to allow them out into the community so that our tax money isn’t being spent to keep them here,” Borowski said.