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The Defense Department is preparing to immediately house thousands of Afghan refugees at US military facilities, Fox News confirmed on Sunday evening.
Documents obtained by Fox News show that the DoD plans to potentially relocate up to 30,000 Afghan SIV applicants to the United States in the immediate future.
“The situation in Afghanistan may lead to a DoS [Department of State] allowing Afghan IVS applicants to be transferred to temporary accommodation while being screened for parole, ”the document reads.
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The bases include Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Bliss in Texas.
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“We want to have the capacity to reach into the thousands immediately and we want to be ready for the potential of the tens of thousands,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Fox News. “Bliss and McCoy have the capacity right now – and the good thing is that with a little work, they could increase their capacity in a very short time.”
This move is a reversal from the previous policy of the Biden administration. On July 8, President Biden told Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich that the US government cannot evacuate Afghan translators to the United States to await visa processing, like some migrants at the southern border.
“The law does not allow that to happen. And that is why we are asking Congress to consider changing the law,” Biden said.
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Kirby said U.S. citizens would not be given priority evacuation over Afghan SIV candidates.
“Once we have more airlift from Kabul, we are going to put as many people as possible on these planes. There will be a mix, not just US citizens, but possibly Afghan SIV candidates as well,” he said. Kirby said. “We’re going to focus on getting the people out of the country and then fixing it at the next stop. It won’t just be the Americans first, then the SIV candidates. We’re going to focus on doing get as many people out as possible. we can. “
Some 6,000 American troops are expected in Kabul with the objective of keeping the airport open to achieve this objective. “We are already primarily in charge of air traffic control at the airport, so we will be monitoring air operations at the airport for as long as possible,” Kirby said.
The State Department will determine who is sent forward – the military’s job is to find facilities and infrastructure for refugees to sleep and receive food and medical attention during treatment. The Pentagon is working closely with the State Department to find processing locations abroad and possibly at home for additional Afghan refugees who do not qualify for SIV status, instead falling under P-2 visas and P-1.
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“[Defense] Secretary Lloyd Austin made it clear to the department and military leaders that he wanted additional options, ”Kirby said. “We all share a sense of urgency and we will bend over backwards to help the State Department as much as possible. we can.”
As to how long the military presence will remain sustainable, Kirby says, “The President gave us August 31 as the end date, so that’s what we’re focusing on.