Afghan Refugees

Afghan Refugees

No Safe Place: Afghans risked their lives for U.S., now struggle in Sacramento

Sacramento has become a major destination for Afghan refugees who translated for U.S. troops or otherwise served in the war effort. But California hasn’t provided the better life they expected. Marked for death by the Taliban at home, they’ve endured poverty and violence in Sacramento.

Afghan Refugees

Lost in America – Afghan refugees in Sacramento fight PTSD

Afghan refugees, whose struggles were chronicled in the Sacramento Bee special report “No Safe Place,” continue to experience depression, anxiety and other mental health problems that their therapist has labeled post-traumatic stress disorder. They may be suffering from a particular variant of PTSD known as Ulysses syndrome, after the Greek hero who wandered the sea for years before finding his way home.

Afghan Refugees

He escaped Afghan violence, only to be attacked in a Sacramento parking lot

Faisal Razmal routinely navigated potentially deadly situations working as an interpreter for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he didn’t suffer physical harm until he moved to an apartment building in Sacramento’s Arden Arcade neighborhood. There, police say, a neighborhood teenager looking to rob him of cash or his cellphone shot him in the eye with a flare gun, severing his optic nerve.

Afghan Refugees

Afghan doctor becomes an anchor for his community

Dr. Fahim Pirzada, 39, is the man Afghan refugees call for help when they run into problems resettling in Sacramento. He was a doctor in Afghanistan. Here he works as a medical interpreter. He also heads VIRTIS – the nonprofit Veteran, Immigrant and Refugee Trauma Institute of Sacramento – which provides mental health care to refugees.

Afghan Refugees

Former interpreter starts over as she opens day care, goes to college

Yalda Kabiri faced danger in Afghanistan and tries now to settle into a life in Sacramento, running a small day care service out of her home. She is also attends college courses at American River College. She had thought her dirty, bug-infested apartment was temporary. “When I talked with my caseworker, when I entered the home, she said ‘Welcome to your home.’ I ask, ‘This is my house or is it a hotel for a night?’ ”

Afghan Refugees

They worked for U.S. troops, now work on iPhones in Elk Grove

Just before 4 p.m. on any given weekday, dozens of Afghan refugees arrive at the Apple Inc. campus in Elk Grove to work the swing shift. Many of them are interpreters, doctors or engineers who were awarded Special Immigrant Visas for assisting U.S. forces in the war in Afghanistan. Now they earn between $10 and $12 an hour checking the functions on iPhones.

Afghan Refugees

Stripped of their names, refugees head to court

A maddening bit of bureaucracy has erased the names of thousands of Afghan refugees arriving in the United States, making it harder for them to launch their new lives. Special Immigrant Visas granting them entry to this country omitted their last names and used their first names as last names. Their first names were listed simply as FNU, or first name unknown.

Local

U.S. halts visas for Afghans who aided American forces

The U.S. has halted applications to the Special Immigrant Visa program for Afghans who helped U.S. military forces overseas. Sacramento is home to the nation’s largest number of such Afghan refugees and was a likely destination for many of the more than 10,000 people hoping to apply to the program.

Videos

Photographs from 'No Safe Place,' a special report by The Sacramento Bee

These photos are part of The Sacramento Bee's coverage of refugees from Afghanistan who have faced tough times since coming to the United States. These people provided significant help to the American mission in that war-torn country.
Renee C. Byer The Sacramento Bee
Photographs from 'No Safe Place,' a special report by The Sacramento Bee 2:33

Photographs from 'No Safe Place,' a special report by The Sacramento Bee

Afghan allies from war on terror struggle to find the American dream 11:15

Afghan allies from war on terror struggle to find the American dream

Female Afghan visa holder runs struggling day care to make ends meet 1:13

Female Afghan visa holder runs struggling day care to make ends meet

In Afghanistan he feared death as a military interpreter, in Sacramento he fears the future 1:28

In Afghanistan he feared death as a military interpreter, in Sacramento he fears the future