As the departure of American troops from Kabul’s airport grows closer, Americans trying to get family out of Afghanistan are losing hope.
A Frisco woman, Atefa Sharifi, is celebrating the fact that her 15-year-old son is one step closer to safety, while growing more desperate to save loved ones left behind.
Sharifi, now a U.S. citizen, has been working to bring her son to the United States for eight years.
She came to the country in 2013 as a refugee through the Special Immigrant Visa program. But though her son, Saeed, was included in her application, he was denied as U.S. immigration law doesn’t recognize Afghan adoptions.
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"That's how we got separated from each other,” said Sharifi.
Over the last couple of weeks, as Taliban moved into Kabul, her tireless work to get Saeed to the States grew desperate.
Sharifi's past service to the U.S. Embassy as both an interpreter and American Citizen Service Assistant put Saeed’s life at risk.
Following dozens of calls and emails, they got a hail Mary as the State Department helped facilitate an extraction.
Thursday morning, agents told Saeed to wait at a gas station outside in Kabul and flash his cell phone light when he saw a certain car drive by. Agents then placed him in a car and transported him to the airport where he was able to get onto a plane bound for Qatar.
Now, as Sharifi waits for her son to finally make it to the United States, she calls the moment bittersweet.
Though Saeed is now out of the Taliban's reach, Sharifi's sister Latifa, a humanitarian rights lawyer and her three children are not. As targets of the Taliban, she said they're forced to move from one safe house to the next.
Like thousands of others, they’ve spent the last couple of weeks venturing to the airport in hopes of escape. Now, even that’s not safe.
"It was so horrible over there. I cannot explain it. She has a 3-year-old son, and he was on the ground and she said people were stepping on him,” she said.
Sharifi also continues to fear for her son, who's now in a refugee camp in Qatar. The plan is to get him onto a plane headed to DFW, but she and her attorney are now unsure how quickly that can happen.
"It's tough. My heart is breaking. I cannot sleep, maybe two hours,” said Sharifi. “I cannot eat food, because when I see the food in front of me I say, is my son eating?"
As both a mother and sister, she said it's hard not to let despair overshadow hope, but Sharifi continues to pray and plead for anyone who can help to do so.
"If they can help me, please help me to bring my sister and her little kids. That's my request,” said Sharifi.