October 06, 2021

Afghan interpreter and his family land in Colorado to start a new life in Broomfield

An Afghan interpreter and his family landed at Denver International Airport Tuesday night to settle in at their new home after the fall and evacuation of Kabul.

Ahmad Siddiqi, his wife and four kids fled Afghanistan in August and hadn’t found a permanent residence yet. He turned to Army veteran Scott Henkel, husband of Broomfield City Councilwoman Heidi Henkel, for help. They met while Henkel was serving in Afghanistan in 2006, and the two worked with Rep. Jason Crow and Rep. Joe Neguse’s offices to expedite the process. 

Siddiqi said he’s happy to find some stability, but admitted it’s been hard to leave behind their home country.

“We all know we left a huge part of ourselves there, and it's not easy,” he said. “But, for these kids, as a father, I think I did something that they will be thankful for.”

Councilwoman Henkel said they helped the Siddiqi family find a place to live, a car, and a school for their kids, which they’ll start at later this week. Next up, they want to get Ahmad a job to help him acclimate. 

“We know there's even a bigger road ahead. He also wants to turn back around and help new Afghan refugees,” Henkel said. 

Siddiqi is one of thousands of Afghan citizens who fled the country after the Taliban captured  Kabul. Refugee assistance officials expect between 1,000 to 2,000 Afghans will resettle in Colorado by the end of the year, with most of them headed to the Denver area. 

Crow, a former Army Ranger, met the family at the airport and said he feels a personal responsibility to help as many Afghan interpreters as possible come to the United States as refugees. 

“Trying to find some good and trying to find a way to keep our promise to those Afghans that fought with us, served with us, and helped us come home to our families to bring them to safety is extremely meaningful and extremely emotional,” Crow said. 

Thousands of interpreters who helped American forces in Afghanistan remain stuck due to a lengthy visa application process. Some veterans have complained that evacuation protocols are unclear and leave many refugees confused about how to find help.

By:  Paolo Zialcita and Hart Van Denburg
Source: Colorado Public Radio