Youth who fled Taliban held with adults in California amid dispute over his age

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Despite federal court’s initial finding that he was 17, asylum seeker detained among hundreds of adults who do not speak his language

First he fled Afghanistan after his father and brother were murdered by the Taliban. Then he flew to Ecuador on what his lawyers described as a forged passport, and eventually he crossed the southern border into the United States, immediately surrendering to authorities. Now Hamid, whom a federal court had determined to be a child, is detained in California with hundreds of adult migrants, terrified and alone, and unable to converse with anyone inside the center as he speaks only Pashto.

His lawyers accuse Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) of holding Hamid (not his real name) unlawfully as a dispute over his age leaves him in limbo.

Related: US to stiffen border rules and separate children from parents

Related: ‘We live as second-class citizens’: what it’s like to face border agents every day

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