Afghan family of 5 to be released after being detained with visas in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- An Afghan family detained in Los Angeles after traveling to the city on special immigrant visas was released Monday afternoon, their lawyers stated.

U.S. immigration officials detained the mother, father, and their three children - ages 8 months old and 6 and 7 years old - when they arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday.

The family landed at LAX where they were set to board their connecting flight to Seattle, where they intend to resettle. The mother and her three children were held in Los Angeles while the father was held in Santa Ana.

"We know that they were vetted for over a year. We know that they were vetted on at least three separate occasions. Nothing happened on the flight over to Los Angeles that changed those circumstances," attorney Mark Rosenbaum said.

Attorneys for the family filed numerous petitions demanding their release. The family's legal team said the special visas had been granted after the father worked for the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

"I think you have a family here whose father spent eight years risking his life and the life of his family and young children to serve the U.S. government. These are exactly the types of people that we should be protecting," attorney Daniele Katzir said.

U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton issued a temporary restraining order late Saturday banning the government from removing the family from California.

The order came within an hour of a flight to Texas that the government had planned to place the mother and children on, the judge said, according to a copy of the order obtained by The Associated Press.

While the family was released, their attorneys said the government hasn't stated whether it will honor the special visas given to them.

"As soon as they step foot in this country possessing that visa, it puts upon them the same rights to due process, the same rights to equal protection that you and I enjoy and the government should honor that and provide it to them," attorney Rob Blume said.

The family, who is not being identified for their safety, will be allowed to remain in the country in the meantime. An immigration review will be held for the family on April 5, according to the family's attorneys.

Immigration officials cannot detain or remove the family again without providing a 72 hour notice to the family's attorneys.

The case arrived just days before President Donald Trump unveiled his new travel ban Monday morning. It replaced his controversial order which banned refugees and immigrants from seven-predominantly Muslim countries. Afghanistan was not one of those countries.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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