Afghan evacuees to arrive in the U.S. through Virginia and Wisconsin military bases
‘Virginia will continue to serve as a safe harbor’
WASHINGTON — The first U.S. stop for the nearly 2,000 Afghan interpreters and other refugees evacuated so far amid the collapse of the Afghan government has been central Virginia’s Fort Lee military base.
Tapped for its East Coast location and its ability to quickly ramp up to serve as a temporary host installation, the Army base near Petersburg has been receiving Afghans eligible for Special Immigrant Visas since late last month.
Two other bases will soon be joining Fort Lee in processing the incoming Afghan evacuees. Department of Defense officials said Monday that they will also use Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy and Fort Bliss in Texas — which could allow for evacuating as many as 22,000 individuals to the U.S.
At Fort Lee and soon at other sites, officials have been attempting to speed up the final steps of an excruciatingly slow visa process for providing a legal path to safety for individuals who worked with U.S. forces and personnel during the 20 years of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
More than 18,000 Afghans who have worked as interpreters, drivers, security guards and fixers for the United States during the war have been stuck in limbo as they await answers on their visa applications, and have faced threats to their lives and those of their families.
The initial arrivals had already completed their security vetting, but still needed to undergo a medical screening and other administrative requirements.
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