Las Vegas, Nev. – Last week, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) visited with Mohammad “Benny” Shirzad, an Afghan interpreter for U.S. troops, and his family, who she helped bring to Las Vegas from Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. After learning about the danger from the Taliban the family was facing in Afghanistan, Cortez Masto successfully helped cut through red tape to expedite the processing of their visa applications.
“I pushed hard to cut through red tape and ensure that this family could be reunited, and I’m thrilled to see them together again in Las Vegas,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Afghan allies like Mr. Shirzad and his family put their lives on the line to help U.S. troops, and I’ll always stand up for them.”
During the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Benny served as an interpreter for U.S. troops and refugees, and he then helped with evacuation flights from the country. Benny was selected for the Diversity Visa and was able to relocate to Las Vegas with help of retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Hoffman – but without his wife and parents who were stuck in Afghanistan. Facing increased harassment from the Taliban, Mr. Shirzad’s wife and parents fled to Pakistan. Senator Cortez Masto and her office repeatedly pushed immigration officials to review the family’s visa and humanitarian parole applications, and thanks to her help the family was reunited in Las Vegas last month.
Senator Cortez Masto has been diligently working with the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security on a large number of cases regarding the evacuation of Afghanistan and has pushed bipartisan legislation to strengthen the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to help protect the Afghan civilians who risked their lives to support the U.S. mission.