Afghan refugee who helped U.S. military overseas stuck in Texas detention center

An Afghan soldier who helped the U.S. military overseas was forced to flee Afghanistan or be killed by the Taliban.

The situation became so dire that his last resort was to head to South America and make the dangerous journey to illegally cross through the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ahmad Majeed arrived in Texas back in September and has been held in the Eden Detention Center ever since. His sister lives in Tempe and is a refugee herself.

She’s now desperately trying to get him released and all charges dropped.

Ahmad Fahim Majeed

Majeed is an intelligence officer for the Afghan National Army Military Air Brigade. He fled, fearing the Taliban would kill him because he had provided information to the U.S. military while also protecting, defending and working alongside American soldiers.

For more than a year, he says he hid underground and in the mountains applying for emergency visas to several countries including the U.S., but only heard back from Brazil.

From Brazil, he says he traveled up through South America to Texas, where he illegally crossed and surrendered himself to border patrol agents. Hoping, since he worked with the U.S., that they would take care of him.

Unfortunately, he's been detained ever since.

'It's getting worse day by day'

"I just want my brother to be free, and he deserves to live in peace and happiness. So I can also be happy and his friends and family, we all can be happy. I will be so glad if they release him as soon as possible," Daryaa Majeed, his sister, said.

Daryaa hasn’t seen her brother in years – ever since she fled Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. forces in August 2021.

"Not only is he suffering, we all are. His friends, family, we all are suffering with this. And we don’t know how to come over of this situation," she said. "I am sad for my home country. It's really totally changed. It's different. I cannot imagine myself to live anymore in there or go back there because it will be, for me, it’s a prison right now."

She managed to get on an evacuation flight out of Kabul, dodging explosions and gunfire. She was taken to a military base for refugees in Wisconsin and shortly after, Arizona State University offered her and 61 other refugee women scholarships to come and start a new life in Arizona. 

Although she escaped and is now safe, the only thing on her mind is her brother.

"It's getting worse day by day and even distracts me with my studies and my jobs and everything even though I am happy for myself. I am here free, and I am continuing my education, but I cannot focus properly. I cannot enjoy my life. I just want my brother to be here with me, with us to be together, and he should start his life peacefully," Daryaa said.

‘I just saved my life to come here’

Majeed spoke with FOX 10 from inside the Eden Detention Center in Texas.

"I didn’t do any crime. I just saved my life to come here," he said. "I did a lot of emails. The only country that replied, it was Brazil, so I don’t have any other option, so that is why I went to Brazil …"

He thought American authorities would help him after he helped them.

"I come across to America because I was known … I worked with Americans, so they might feel my pain and my sorrow better than other people because they were doing the job with me."

Majeed says he's the only Afghan in the detention center.

Court documents confirm Majeed was apprehended by a border patrol agent on September 30, 2022, near Eagle Pass, Texas for failure to comply with reporting requirements when entering the U.S.

He says he has limited access to the shared phone but can usually call his sister and family friend, Nathaly Correa, in Tempe once a day.

"Sometimes when he doesn’t call I get very afraid for his safety. He had mentioned receiving direct threats inside the detention center by some local gang members. He became the target. They don’t trust him. He is military," Correa said.

Majeed was given a misdemeanor charge and pled guilty. He says he surrendered himself when he crossed the border and was prepared with as many legal documents he could obtain, except a U.S. visa.

"So I got everything when I come first to America. When I entered from Eagle Pass I had all my original documents to prove that I am an army officer," he said.

From there, the federal judge in Texas scheduled a sentencing hearing for Sept. 27 – six months from now and a year since he was first detained.

"All people are coming here with illegally crossing, but they are getting out in three months, in four months. They are keeping me here six months, and I am not understanding what is the reason for this. I am asking for equal rights," Majeed said.

‘It’s taken a toll on his mental and physical health’

Correa talks about how she and loved ones deal with his situation.

"We have mixed emotions, we cry a lot, we pray a lot, we get sad, sometimes we get anger because we are not able to understand why he is going through this," she said.

She and his sister say they’ve exhausted every avenue. They’ve asked for help from politicians, influencers, non-profit agencies and humanitarian organizations. All leading to a dead end.

They’ve hired an attorney who they say filed an asylum application.

Majeed didn't take this journey alone. He says his friend and fellow Afghan officer, Abdul Wasi Safi, traveled with him from Afghanistan.

"He crossed with another officer, same day, same time. The officer who traveled with him was from the same country, same exact background and same exact charges however this officer, thanks to God, he was released about a month and a half ago or so. He was released, and his charges were dropped," Correa said.

Safi’s attorney filed a motion asking a federal judge in Del Rio, Texas to dismiss the immigration charge for Safi. The judge granted that request, freeing him and causing all his charges to be dropped.

Safi has since been reunited with his brother in Houston – all while Majeed remains in custody.

"We are just hoping that, and we are just requesting that the U.S. government, Texas, the court and the judge to release my brother," Daryaa said.

For now, while he waits in the Eden Detention Center, Correa says it’s taken a toll on his mental and physical health. She says Majeed has requested medical attention for injuries obtained during his journey and while in custody, they say those requests were denied. He's also having difficulty practicing his religion, he says.

"He was requesting to have a Holy Quran and that was denied as well," Correa said.

FOX 10 reached out to Majeed’s attorney, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the judge overseeing his case for comment and information but have not yet heard back. 

We also reached out to the U.S. Attorney's Office in West Texas who declined to interview.