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Biden Administration To Begin Relocating Afghans Who Worked With U.S. To Virginia Military Base

A view of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

The United States will bring the first group of Afghans who worked with the U.S. government to a military base in Virginia until their visas are finalized, the Biden administration said on July 19.

The group includes 700 Afghans who worked for U.S. forces and roughly 1,800 family members, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“These are brave Afghans and their families, as we have said, whose service to the United States has been certified by the embassy in Kabul, and who have completed thorough security-vetting processes,” Price said.

The first resettlements to Fort Lee, Virginia, are to begin at the end of July.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the Afghans are expected to stay only several days at Fort Lee before being resettled by the State Department and refugee assistance groups.

The group to be housed at Fort Lee accounts for only a small portion of the Afghans seeking refuge in the United States amid concerns about their safety as the Taliban makes rapid gains across the country.

President Joe Biden, who announced U.S. forces would leave Afghanistan by the end of August, is under pressure from Congress and activists to ensure Afghans who worked as translators and in other roles with American troops and diplomats have an opportunity to resettle in the United States with their families.

Many Afghans fear reprisal from the Taliban for working with U.S. forces.

Around 20,000 Afghans have expressed interest in applying for special immigrant visas to move to the United States, but many are not in advanced stages of the long vetting process to be considered for relocation.

Price said about 4,000 applicants and family who have completed most of the application process but have yet to clear security screening will be sent to non-U.S. locations to await processing of the immigration visas.

“Our plan is to take them to locations outside of the United States where they will be safe and where they will be provided accommodation during this processing period, which can last a number of months," he said.

With reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, and Reuters
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