Noorullah Aminyar generated headlines across the country when he and two other Afghan soldiers fearing torture in their native land fled to Niagara Falls.
The other soldiers were granted asylum – one here, one in Canada – but Aminyar remains detained and is now facing deportation.
An immigration appeals panel denied Aminyar’s request for asylum this week and ordered him back to Afghanistan, where his Buffalo lawyer says he faces almost certain arrest and torture by either the Taliban or the Afghan military.
“The blood will be on the hands of the U.S. government,” said Matthew Borowski, the immigration lawyer handling Aminyar’s case. “Justice in the immigration courts appears to be quite arbitrary.”
Borowski said the decision is difficult to understand because the same appeals panel ruled in favor of asylum for Maj. Jan Arash, one of Aminyar’s fellow soldiers. Arash is currently free and living in the Buffalo area.
The other solider, Capt. Mohammad Nasir Askarzada, who has family in Canada, was ruled eligible for asylum there and was transferred to Canada in December.
“How is it not arbitrary and capricious when almost identical immigration cases are decided differently by the same administrative agency,” Borowski said.
He plans to appeal to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City and ask for a stay of deportation.
Aminyar, Arash and Askarzada were undergoing training at a facility on Cape Cod, Mass., in September of last year and at one point fled the base and set out for Canada.
With the help of a cab, they made their way to the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, where they soon found themselves in federal custody. All three soldiers said that it was their fear of the Taliban that prompted them to abandon their training and flee with hopes of making it into Canada.
Borowski said he can’t understand how the appeals panel could grant asylum to Arash but not Aminyar. He said that both men are soldiers who will forever be regarded as members of the military.
And for that reason, he said, they will always be at risk of persecution by the Taliban. He also remains concerned that the Afghan military may take action against Aminyar because of his decision to flee the facility in Cape Cod and seek asylum here.
“His situation is one he will take to the grave,” Borowski said of Aminyar’s military service and the dangers it creates for him.
Borowski said the irony is that the decision on Aminyar this week came at about the same time that Askarzada was granted permanent refugee status in Canada.
Officials in the immigration court system could not be reached to comment Thursday.