2,500 Afghan visa seekers, families to be housed at US military installation

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2,500 Afghan visa seekers, families to be housed at US military installation
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2,500 Afghan visa seekers, families to be housed at US military installation
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The Pentagon will temporarily house Afghan workers who aided the U.S. military or diplomatic missions and are trying to leave the country at Fort Lee, an Army installation in central Virginia, while they complete the application process for a special visa, according to the State Department.

It is the “first tranche” of Afghans who are being evacuated by the U.S. as it completes a military withdrawal from Afghanistan, nearly 20 years after American service members first arrived to topple the Taliban government and destroy al-Qaida’s operations in the country.

But there are thousands more Afghans, including other U.S. contractors, who are desperate to exit the country and fear for their lives as the militant group takes dozens of districts by force. The House of Representatives voted Thursday to expand and expedite the Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV, program for these Afghans and create more openings as soon as possible.

The measure passed in a strong, 407-16 bipartisan vote, and now heads to the Senate where negotiations are ongoing about passage of the bill and an earlier, similar measure.

The State Department requested that the Defense Department house this initial group of 700 Afghans “who are closest to completing special-immigrant processing,” according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price, along with hundreds of their family members, for a total of 2,500 Afghans.

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