Over 50,000 Afghan evacuees expected to resettle in US, says DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

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Over 50,000 Afghan evacuees expected to resettle in US, says DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
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Over 50,000 Afghan evacuees expected to resettle in US, says DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says he expects the U.S. will resettle over 50,000 Afghan evacuees, including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, visa holders, applicants for special immigrant visas (SIVs) and others at risk, including “journalists, and vulnerable women and girls.”

Before they land here, many have been taken to U.S. and NATO bases in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Spain and Italy. According to federal data obtained by CBS News, almost 34,000 Afghan evacuees remained at these bases as of Friday.

One military base in Qatar is currently hosting approximately 6,400 evacuees, while two bases in Germany are housing a combined 16,800 evacuees, the most of any overseas base. In the past two days, about 6,000 more people have been relocated to the U.S. since CBS News first reported the data.

Most of the evacuees housed in Europe will make their way to the U.S., according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. Those chosen to be relocated to the U.S. have been completing their security screening at the overseas sites.

General Tod Wolters, the head of U.S. European Command said that as of Thursday, 58 individuals need further security processing, but he believes all of them will be cleared.

Just one individual out of the thousands who have come through Europe has “popped red,” according to Wolters. The Department of Defense does not consider this person to be a high threat. A background investigation of the individual is ongoing, as they remain in the appropriate custody of U.S. interagency officials with cooperation from Germany.

Evacuees are being screened against multiple government watchlists and vetted by personnel at the DHS, the Defense Department, the State Department, the National Counterterrorism Center and intelligence partners, according to Bob Fenton, DHS’ current lead on resettlement efforts.

Mayorkas acknowledged that while some Afghans have been flagged on terror watch lists in transit countries, they will not be permitted into the United States pending further investigation. “Our policy is not to board flights to the United States until they are cleared,” Mayorkas said.

You can read the rest of Nicole Sganga, Bo Erickson, Eleanor Watson and Ed O’Keefe’s article at CBSnews.com

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