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Afghan family reunited in Tucson after almost 2 years apart

An Afghan man living in Tucson has been reunited with his wife and daughter after almost two years. They’re one of thousands of Afghan families still trying to get asylum in the U.S. 

Ahmad Wakili survived more than one attempt on his life working as an assistant judge in a terrorism court at the U.S. air base in Kabul. He sent his wife to Turkey to protect her and they had a daughter there. 

Wakili came to Tucson after being evacuated from Afghanistan by the U.S. last August. His wife and 2-year-old daughter have been stuck abroad ever since. 

Tucson City Council member Steve Kozachik has been helping them reunite. 

"So both Nilofar and daughter Kawsar are approved for humanitarian parole. that gives them a two year stay. During that time, we’ve already applied for asylum for Ahmad," he said.

Humanitarian parole is a temporary status granted by the U.S. on an emergency basis. After months of working with officials at U.S. Department of State, refugee aid groups, Turkish officials and elected officials in Arizona, Wakili's family touched down in Tucson in the early morning hours Sunday and Kozachik met Wakili's wife and daughter for the first time. 

"We took them out and let Kawsar play in the little playground at McDonalds while we ate and then we went to Costco," he said. "We were in the parking lot of Costco and Nilofar took a picture of the American flag that was hanging over the gas station there, and I thought, 'wow, that is very cool.'"

But Kozachik says Wakili's family is the rare exception. His office is in touch with other Afghans still stuck in Afghanistan or other countries, waiting for their applications to process. 

Figures reported by CBS in June showed more than 90% of humanitarian parole requests by Afghans were rejected. 

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.