Today, Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) resettled the last group of Afghan nationals from Fort Lee, Virginia, the first of eight Department of Defense (DOD) installations established to temporarily house vulnerable Afghans, including those who are Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants. To date, more than 25,000 Afghan evacuees have been resettled in communities across our country. These resettlement efforts are led by the Department of State in close coordination with more than 200 local resettlement affiliates across the United States.
“This historic milestone highlights the ongoing commitment and perseverance we have witnessed to safely welcome our Afghan allies to the United States through a whole-of-society effort,” said Robert J. Fenton, Jr., Senior Response Official for Operation Allies Welcome. “As we complete operations at Fort Lee, we are incredibly proud of the collaboration that has led to the resettlement of more than 25,000 vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked on behalf of the United States, into local communities across our country.”
DOD continues to provide temporary housing facilities for the remaining approximately 45,000 vulnerable Afghans who are in the process of completing their resettlement while at the following seven military installations: Camp Atterbury, Indiana; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Pickett, Virginia; Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia; and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. While on these installations, Afghan evacuees have access to a range of services, including medical care and resettlement services, and they can apply for work authorization.
“Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Guardians have given – and continue to give – steadfast support as part of Operation Allies Welcome,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, U.S. Northern Command commander. “Last summer, Fort Lee was the first of eight DOD installations to welcome Afghans as they underwent the resettlement process, and today the task force at Fort Lee is the first to bid farewell to the Afghans as they proceed on to their lives in America.”
Prior to entering the United States, Afghan evacuees must successfully complete a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process that includes biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and other Intelligence Community partners. Afghan evacuees also receive critical vaccinations – which include measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella, polio, COVID-19, and others – as a condition of their humanitarian parole. All OAW arrivals are tested for COVID-19.
Those who are interested in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable Afghans can go to www.welcome.us to learn more about how to get involved. Welcome.US is a national non-profit initiative to welcome and support Afghan nationals as they rebuild their lives in communities across America. Groups of individuals and community organizations can also apply to form a sponsor circle to directly support arriving Afghan evacuees. For more information on the Sponsor Circle Program and to learn how to apply to form a sponsor circle, visit www.sponsorcircles.org.