Mohammad Naseer Yasini sat alone in a North Kansas City apartment and recalled life under the Taliban. At that time, he never imagined he would one day work for American soldiers.
He was young, still a boy then, but his memories remain clear. It was a stressful time in Afghanistan, he said. Few people had jobs or other opportunities. He smiled a little ruefully.
“Something like my life here,” said Yasini, 29. “When I have a job, I’ll say then I am happy.”
Yasini arrived in Kansas City last month and is one of the hundreds of Iraqis and Afghans who move to the United States on a special immigrant visa after serving alongside American troops in their home countries. The visa was created specifically for those whose lives have been threatened because of their work for U.S. forces.
But many of these refugees do not feel special. They arrive here reliant on nonprofit social service agencies and become ensnared in the red tape of securing federal resettlement assistance for housing, employment and health care. They often find they cannot resume the professional careers they once held or had planned in their native countries.