Mon. Sep 20th, 2021
Afghan Visa Applicants Arrive in U.S. After Years of Waiting

WASHINGTON — The initial group of Afghans promised refuge by the Biden administration for assisting the United States for the duration of the twenty-yr war in Afghanistan landed on American soil early Friday, starting up a new daily life chapter immediately after many years of waiting.

About 250 Afghan interpreters, drivers and other folks who worked with the U.S. military, as very well as their loved ones members, arrived at Dulles Worldwide Airport outdoors Washington immediately after traveling a lot more than thirty hrs from Kabul, the Afghan capital, officials explained.

From Dulles, they had been bused to Fort Lee, Va., south of Richmond, wherever they will remain at a hotel on the base for about a week to finish their processing prior to becoming resettled in the United States completely, officials explained.

The late-evening arrival marked the vanguard of an preliminary group of about two,500 Afghans becoming evacuated underneath risk of Taliban reprisals in an energy the White Residence calls Operation Allies Refuge. Groups of Afghans will arrive by plane approximately each 3 days and be transported to Fort Lee, explained a single American official briefed on the arrangements.

At the sprawling Army base about 130 miles south of Washington, the Afghans will remain on focused floors of the hotel, wherever personal safety rather than military police will be in spot to make certain their security, officials explained.

An more four,000 Afghans who worked with American forces but whose applications require even further approvals and their households will go to other nations in the coming weeks to finish the visa system prior to coming to the United States, officials explained.

The United States is negotiating with Qatar and Kuwait to residence 1000’s of Afghans at military bases in individuals nations for up to various months even though they finish their visa applications and await clearance to come to the United States. Diplomats are discussing comparable arrangements with Kazakhstan and Kosovo, a single official explained.

Lots of of the newly arrived interpreters have lengthy been targets of the Taliban for their cooperation with American troops for the duration of the war. Their passage was promised underneath two congressionally devised particular visa applications, but the documentation and safety prerequisites have bedeviled a lot of candidates.

About 18,000 Afghans have been caught in bureaucratic limbo immediately after applying for particular immigrant visas, which are obtainable to folks who encounter threats simply because of get the job done for the U.S. government. The candidates have 53,000 loved ones members, U.S. officials have explained.

Lots of a lot more are even now trapped as Taliban fighters tighten their grip close to rural parts. The administration has been opaque about who exactly will get passage, and a lot of concern that they will under no circumstances be discovered.

On Thursday, Congress agreed to broaden the quantity of particular immigrant visas obtainable for Afghans to 19,000 from eleven,000 and broaden the universe of folks eligible for them by getting rid of some application prerequisites. The measure, aspect of a $ billion emergency investing bill, also involves hundreds of hundreds of thousands of bucks for government applications that help and resettle refugees and migrants.

Mr. Biden and other prime administration officials say they are committed to aiding Afghans who braved dangers and hardships to help the United States for the duration of its longest war. “It’s a single of our moral obligations to assistance the folks who have assisted us,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III explained on Saturday.

Military veterans, some members of Congress and refugee groups have pushed to pace up the evacuations. But considerations that a processing error could end result in a safety incident have stored that stress in verify, explained various folks who talked to administration officials in latest weeks.

“Realistically, a single are not able to carry twenty,000 interpreters right into the United States,” explained Mary Kaszynski, the director of government relations for VoteVets, a veterans organization that has targeted on the difficulty for many years simply because a lot of members stay near with the interpreters they worked with in Afghanistan. “That wouldn’t be protected, that wouldn’t be great for U.S. interests and that is why they had to employ a staged strategy.”

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