Virginia’s Fort Lee Army base will temporarily house about 700 Afghan citizens and their families who helped the U.S. military, beginning next week, according to statements from the State Department and the Department of Defense (DOD). The refugees served in roles including translation, and the first group will include up to 2,500 refugees.
“These initial relocation movements, the first that are under Operation Allies Refuge, will again reaffirm America’s commitment to those who have helped us and to whom we owe so much,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Monday.
The State Department asked the DOD to house the refugees.
“At the President’s direction, the Department of State is working to relocate interested and eligible Afghan nationals and their families who have been approved through the Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV, program,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said in a Monday press briefing.
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 SIV security vetting processes. They will be provided temporary housing and services as they complete the final steps in the special immigrant process.”
Kirby said that process would include medical screenings and administrative tasks. He added more people are in the SIV process and more facilities might be needed to house those individuals. Other locations, including bases outside the U.S., are also being considered if more capacity is needed. Kirby said no new housing would need to be built and emphasized that the refugees would be on base for “a really short period of time.”
“We don’t anticipate that these individuals and their families will be at Fort Lee or any other domestic installation, should another installation be required, for long, probably several days or so,” Kirby told reporters.
Kim Taylor is a Republican running for Virginia’s 63rd House of Delegates District, where Fort Lee is located. In a statement, she said, “I am proud to welcome our brave Afghan allies in the War on Terror to Fort Lee; I am honored by their service to a nation they did not call home.”
She added, “I hope that we are able to take care of and return the favor for those who were willing to sacrifice everything to help our brave men and women in uniform. Fort Lee and Virginia is grateful to these heroes and their families sacrifice.”
” For two decades, thousands of Afghans have put their own lives and safety in danger in order to work with U.S. and allied personnel to fight Al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, ISIS and other terrorist groups. Their efforts contributed to the decimation of Al Qaeda and its ability to attack the U.S. homeland,” Warner said in a press release.
“Thanks to the Afghan SIV program, which I have long supported, Afghans who risked their lives supporting the U.S. can now escape the dangers they face due to their service to our nation,” Kaine said.
– – –