After Fleeing Taliban, Afghan Teen Reunites With His Family In North Texas

It took eight years, but Saeed Sharifi is finally in a place where he feels safe.

The 15-year-old Afghan native landed Tuesday at DFW International Airport and reunited with family. It was the culmination of a journey that began in Kabul during the city’s fall to the Taliban and spread to military bases and refugee camps in Qatar and El Paso.

Saeed, shy but affable, smiled while mumbling yes when asked if he felt safe. But no words were needed to see the family’s love and relief.

His adopted parents and sister embraced him Tuesday afternoon in Terminal A, where Atefa Sharifi fretted over how much weight he lost as they embraced.

“I love you so much,” she told Saeed through tears. “Oh, my goodness, you’re grown up. Look at you.”

But the reunion was bittersweet. Sharifi is still waiting for her sister to make the same journey. Her sister is still in Afghanistan and moving from safe house to safe house. Her position as a women’s rights lawyer puts her in danger under the new Taliban regime.

Sharifi, who worked in the consulate section of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, left for the United States in 2013 after she was granted a Special Immigrant Visa and, later, U.S. citizenship. But she was not able to bring Saeed, her biological nephew, when his parents were unable to care for him. She and her family now live in Frisco.

The stunning collapse of Kabul and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this summer accelerated the emergency. People in Afghanistan began questioning Saeed about Sharifi and her former job, the family’s immigration lawyer, Christopher Carlston, said.

Saeed was granted an emergency humanitarian parole, which allows those with compelling emergencies to temporarily enter the United States.

By Michael Williams for THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
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