Mosawi family profile on Spectrum News highlights the struggle of asylum seekers arriving in the United States

January 31, 2024


Sayed and Salar Mosawi were reunited just before Christmas thanks to the work of CLUE and the LA Welcomes Collective (you can read the December story below).

Now, Spectrum News has published a profile of the Mosawi family that helps explain what’s at stake for many refugees arriving in the United States.

Reuniting family members is central to CLUE’s work with the LA Welcomes Collective.

Thank you to volunteers like Liz Bar-El and Conrad Nordquist–who are quoted in the article–and to countless others at congregations across Southern California who are faithfully accompanying fellow humans seeking a decent life in the U.S. through CLUE’s Immigration Program.

Click to watch the video below or read the full article here.

December 16, 2023

By Liz Bar-El, CLUE Justice LAWC Communications Liaison

Riverside, California.  On December 16, 2023, Sayed Mosawi and his 18-year-old son, Salar, could finally breathe a sigh of relief, when they were reunited at the home of their host, Episcopal church member and CLUE Justice activist Conrad Nordquist (pictured right). 

Father and son had not seen each other in 68 days – five days after crossing the US border in Texas. 

On that day, immigration officials took Salar from the Texas detention center where both were being held to the detention center in Adelanto, California.  

CLUE Justice has been advocating for release of detainees in Adelanto – and for its closure – and in recent weeks, more than 25 individuals, mostly from Mauritania, have been released based on CLUE’s sponsorship. 

The most recent success was the release of Salar two weeks ago.  The generosity of Mr. Nordquist finally gave him his freedom and a place of refuge. But his father was still being detained in Texas.

Following Salar’s release, CLUE was able to gain approval to sponsor Sayed. On the 62nd day of his detention, after receiving no communication about his son or his own prospects for release, detention guards approached to tell him they were taking him out to a shelter in Brownsville. 

Five days later, CLUE confirmed with local contacts that he was being registered to board a bus to Los Angeles through the Texas governor’s transfer program.

While these buses provide free transportation out of Texas, no further assistance is given, and the LA community has filled the gap through the work of the LA Welcomes Collective, a collaboration of non-profit organizations, including CLUE, along with City and County agencies. 

At 12:40 Central time on December 15, Sayed’s bus left Texas.  Thirty hours later, he was among 45 people who arrived at the LAWC receiving site.

CLUE staff and volunteers in the room welcomed him and he brightened when shown a picture of his son in Riverside. 

Nearly 68 days of separation soon came to an end when CLUE Immigration Program Director Guillermo Torres dropped him off at the home in Riverside. 

The Mosawi Family’s Story

The Mosawi family’s life changed forever in August 2021 when the US withdrew from Afghanistan and within one week, the Taliban took control of the country. 

The world witnessed the scenes at the airport in Kabul as flights provided by US and allied countries airlifted people out of the approaching danger. 

Afghans who worked with and supported the US during the previous years were offered asylum, but first they had to get out of the country.

There were not enough flights, and people stormed the runways in attempt to leave.

Sayed Mosawi, a police trainer working with the American military, was there along with his wife and five children, but the family was not among the lucky.  

For the Mosawis, the next step was to hide their way through the country with some of his extended family until they were able to cross the border and enter Iran. 

Eventually, they were given visas to travel to Brazil.  Earlier this year, the whole family, including his sister, brother-in-law and nephew, and a brother with special needs, flew to Brazil. 

Sayed, Salar and the sister’s family soon began a 44-day trek northward. 

They traveled on foot, by bus, boat, plane and through the jungle until they at last reached the Rio Grande. 

With imperfect information, they decided to cross the border at Texas, rather than Tijuana, to request asylum (Sayed says he regrets that decision).

They found themselves in ICE detention, held until an eligible sponsor would come forward.  Sayed’s sister and family were released and went to Washington state, but as asylum seekers themselves they could not act as sponsors.

Fortunately, CLUE has now been able to step into that role, and a new phase can finally begin for the family who were promised safety in the United States more than two years ago.

The US made a promise to Afghans like Sayed. 

Instead of the welcome they deserved, the US government greeted them with two months of detention, made harder by forced separation of a father and son. 

This is simply wrong and inconsistent with the shared values of the CLUE Justice community. 

Sayed and Salar will begin the new year with hope, but they will only feel the full joy they long for when they are joined by the rest of the family, still waiting in limbo in Brazil. 

Let us hope and pray that this happens, and help them achieve that goal in 2024.