An interpreter follows a U.S. Marine officer prior to moving to another military base in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on March 21, 2010.

An interpreter follows a U.S. Marine officer prior to moving to another military base in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on March 21, 2010. MAURICIO LIMA/AFP via Getty Images

First Afghan Interpreters Arrive in Virginia

More than 200 Afghans are expected to spend a week at Fort Lee before being resettled.

The first planeload of Afghan interpreters who helped American troops in combat has arrived in the United States.

More than 200 Afghans, including family members of people who worked with U.S. forces, were on the first flight out of Afghanistan to Virginia, said Russ Travers, the deputy homeland security advisor on the National Security Council. But more than 2,000 other interpreters and dependents  have completed most or all of the security screening and are still awaiting their trip to the United States.

“This flight represents a fulfillment of the U.S. commitment to honor these Afghan’s brave service in helping to support our mission in Afghanistan, in turn helping to keep our country safe,” said Travers, who added that flights from Afghanistan to the United States will continue to relocate translators and their families “over the course of a few weeks.” 

The translators are eligible to come to the United States under the Special Immigrant Visa program, which allows Afghans who helped the U.S. military and consequently face threats from the Taliban to safely leave the country. Since 2008, more than 70,000 Afghans have come to America under the program, Travers said.

This first group of refugees is expected to spend about a week at Fort Lee, an Army base near Richmond, Va., where they will receive a medical checkup before being relocated across the country, said Tracey Jacobson, director of the State Department’s Afghanistan Task Force. Jacobson said she hopes to shorten that wait on the base for future flights. 

There is also a larger group of Afghans who have started the process to get a special immigrant visa, but have not completed the required security checks to come to the United States. The State Department told Defense One that about 18,000 applicants are seeking visas. Each person on average brings three people--a spouse and two children, according to advocates. 

U.S. officials will start moving this group of people “in the coming weeks” from Afghanistan to somewhere outside the United States, where they can be safe from the Taliban while they undergo security vetting and complete paperwork. The Wall Street Journal reported that negotiations are ongoing to use American bases in Kuwait and Qatar to temporarily house these Afghans, but nothing has been finalized. 

The White House has asked lawmakers for $1 billion in emergency funding for the evacuation and resettlement effort, CNN reported.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have supported the administration’s plan to make sure the Afghans who helped American troops are safe. The House last week passed a bill to streamline visa processing and boost the number of visas available by 8,000. The chamber also recently passed the Honoring Our Promises Through Expedition for Afghan SIVs Act of 2021, which would waive the requirement for interpreters and their families to get a medical exam in Afghanistan before receiving a visa.

The Senate on Wednesday passed a similar bill that would increase the number of visas and postpone the medical exam. The Afghan Allies Protection Act would also make someone eligible after just one year of employment instead of two, ensure Afghans who provided military logistics support could also participate in the program, and provide visas for spouses and children of Afghan translators who were killed.

Members of Congress are trying to help other Afghans as well beyond those who served alongside the U.S. military. On Wednesday, the leaders of the Democratic Women’s Caucus introduced a bill that would prioritize refugee applications for others facing violence from the Taliban, including women’s rights activists, journalists and human rights advocates. 

“Their valiant fight for their country and ideals is to be commended, but their circumstances are expected to become even more dire as the Taliban’s territorial offensives rage across the country,” caucus co-chair Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said in a statement.

Asked whether the White House is considering also helping this group of threatened Afghans, Travers said they would not be covered by the limited Special Immigrant Visa program, but that there are ways the United States can help. 

“U.S. Embassy Kabul can make referrals to the U.S. Refugee Admission Program for any Afghans who are well known to the embassy and have both imminent and compelling protection concerns,” he said. “This would, by definition, include women’s leaders, activities, human rights defenders, civil servants, [and] journalists.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.