Trump agents thank Afghan who served our troops - by jailing him in N.J. | Editorial

Let's not forget that long before President Trump was defending the "very fine people" marching with Nazis, he was calling to ban all Muslims. All of them.
 
Twenty-five-year old Abdul, imprisoned in our state for reasons still unexplained, is an apparent victim of that profiling, even though Afghanistan wasn't even one of the six Muslim-majority countries that ultimately made Trump's "travel ban" list.
 
The Afghan was rigorously vetted by the U.S. government, awarded a special visa and promised safety here, after risking his life to work for our troops.

Yet upon arriving at Newark airport, he was very nearly put on a plane and sent right back to the country where he fled the Taliban; then imprisoned for five months in the Elizabeth detention center - where he still remains.
 
He was never told why. That's how the Trump administration says, "Thank you for your service."
 
Ask yourself: Who in Iraq or Afghanistan would want to work for our military now, given how we treat people like him?
 
Abdul, whose last name we are withholding to protect his family from the Taliban, arrived here three days before Trump's ban was expected to take effect, after legal battles and revisions.

But the president had already sent an unequivocal message to U.S. border patrol that it should be singling out Muslims. Abdul's lawyers say that's exactly what happened to him.
 
He was put into a holding area at the airport and told his visa would be revoked, without ever being given any explanation. He was held for more than 24 hours, most of it with no food or place to sleep, and questioned about his religion, prayer cap and rug, and whether he had a Koran (he didn't).
 
It's otherwise baffling why he was targeted. Our government had already recognized he was in danger, granting him one of more than 40,000 special visas given to Afghans who have helped U.S. troops since 2007. He had gone through numerous background checks.

He had a connecting flight to Ohio - a state he chose to be near his former American military boss - where he was to be met by a refugee resettlement agency.
 
Yet Abdul would have been immediately put on a plane back to Afghanistan, with zero justification, if not for the last-minute intervention of lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and Seton Hall law school. A private immigration attorney is also representing him pro-bono.
 
Now they're trying to get him a bond hearing, and ultimately, asylum. He deserves it, having served American troops and embassy staff for five years in the mess halls - enough to get you killed in Afghanistan.
 
The Taliban hung posters in his village mosque warning that it would punish anyone who worked for the Americans. Some of its thugs already attacked and beat Abdul with cables, and he narrowly escaped a roadside explosion that appeared to target him.
 
His supervisor in Afghanistan, a former U.S. Army sergeant, arranged housing for him near the U.S. military base for his own protection. To strip him of his visa now, with no cause, and throw him in jail after promising him refuge is contrary to everything America stands for.
 
This is the human cost of Trump's blanket immigration enforcement, and targeting people based on religion rather than the merit of their individual cases. It also hurts our troops, who depend heavily on local support on the ground. How, exactly, does this help us fight terrorism?
 
It's just one more way Trump is corroding the moral authority of the United States.

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