BATAVIA, N.Y. (AP) — An immigration judge set bond at $25,000 Wednesday for one of three Afghan military officers who face deportation after taking off from a Massachusetts training exercise last month to seek asylum.
But Maj. Jan Arash won't immediately be released, according to his attorney, who called the amount "extraordinarily high" for a non-criminal immigration case.
"His family lives month to month. He said he's worried about how his family is going to pay for bread and shelter this coming month because now his salary has been cut by the Afghan government," attorney Matthew Borowski said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement prosecutor Marvin Muller had opposed any bond, telling Judge Steven Connelly that while there is no evidence that Arash or the others pose a threat to national security, his absence of ties to the United States makes him likely to flee.
"I don't see anything to indicate this defendant is anything but a flight risk," Muller said.
Arash, Capt. Noorullah Aminyar and Capt. Mohammed Nasir Askarzada took a cab from Massachusetts to New York Sept. 20 after skipping out on a military training exercise they had been invited to attend at Joint Base Cape Cod. They were detained by Canadian border agents in Niagara Falls and turned over to U.S. authorities after walking into Canada and asking for refugee status.
The three officers appeared separately for proceedings inside the federal detention facility near Buffalo where they have been held since Sept. 23. They are challenging the government's contention they should be returned to Afghanistan because their visas are no longer valid.
The judge considered only Arash's bond application Wednesday. Borowski sought additional time to prepare before moving ahead on the cases of Aminyar and Askarzada. They are due back in court Oct. 22.
A trial date of Dec. 9 was set for Arash.
In interviews last week, the officers said they decided to seek asylum in the U.S. or Canada to escape Taliban violence at home, but now fear reprisals from their own government as well.
"The Afghan government says there will be repercussions for abandoning their post," said Borowski, who declined to speculate what they might be.
The lawyer has begun raising money online for their legal and living expenses.