Over 52,000 Afghan Evacuees Resettled Across America Under Operation Allies Welcome

© REUTERS / SPAIN MINISTRY OF DEFENSEAfghan collaborators, their families, Spanish soldiers and members of the embassy board a Spanish military plane as part of their evacuation, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 27, 2021
Afghan collaborators, their families, Spanish soldiers and members of the embassy board a Spanish military plane as part of their evacuation, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 27, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.01.2022
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More than 122,000 people, including US and NATO troops and intelligence operatives, and tens of thousands of Afghans who assisted America during its 19+ year war in Afghanistan, were evacuated from Kabul in the chaotic final two weeks of August 2021 after the unexpected seizure of the Afghan capital by the Taliban.*
More than 52,000 of the roughly 75,000 Afghan evacuees taken in by the US last year have been resettled across the United States under Operation Allies Welcome, the latest Department of Homeland Security figures show.
The DHS announced Friday that the last group of Afghan nationals who had been temporarily housed at the Fort Bliss army base in El Paso, Texas had departed for their new homes.
Fort Bliss is one of eight Pentagon facilities providing temporary housing support for the evacuees, with resettlement led by the State Department and assisted by nearly 300 resettlement affiliates and charities across 46 states.
Two other bases, both in Virginia, have also been cleared of evacuees, with about 22,500 people now remaining housed at military facilities at the Camp Atterbury base in Indiana, New Jersey’s Fort Dix, the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Fort Pickett in Virginia and Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy.
The US took the lion’s share of the Afghan evacuees airlifted out of Afghanistan in August, accommodating those who worked for the US military after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and members of their families, and many random Afghans lucky enough to make it aboard US evacuation flights out of Kabul in the final days of August. America’s European allies agreed to resettle 40,000 evacuees.
Members of the UK Armed Forces continue to take part in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Kabul airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 19-22, 2021, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on August 23, 2021. LPhot Ben Shread/UK MOD Crown copyright 2021/Handout via REUTERS  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.12.2021
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The Biden administration has received bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans on the resettlement effort, with $13.4 billion total committed to the programme under two separate bills.
Most of the 75,000 Afghans who arrived in the US under Operation Allies Welcome were allowed to stay by claiming refugee status, with previous efforts to limit entry to those holding special immigrant visas (SIVs) scrapped amid the unexpectedly speedy collapse of the Afghan government.
Department of Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas granted most of the evacuees parole, sparking criticism from conservatives that this weakened the security checks normally required to find out a person’s background by Citizenship and Immigration Services employees.
A commercial airplane is seen at the Hamid Karzai International Airport a day after U.S troops withdrawal in Kabul, Afghanistan August 31, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2021
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In its statement Friday, the DHS assured that the evacuees had to complete “a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process that includes biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals from multiple federal agencies,” and assured that all received their “critical vaccinations,” as “a condition of their humanitarian parole.”
The United States typically spends over $8 billion on refugee resettlement programmes annually, with a 2020 study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank, estimating that each refugee costs taxpayers as much as $133,000 over the course of their lifetime.
The evacuation and resettlement operation has not gone off entirely without a hitch amid reports that multiple evacuees have been involved in sexual and physical assault, including one incident involving a female US soldier at Fort Bliss, and reports that some of the evacuees include former Taliban fighters.
In this Aug. 19, 2021 file photo, Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan. When U.S. President Joe Biden took office early this year, Western allies were falling over themselves to welcome and praise him and hail a new era in trans-Atlantic cooperation. - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.10.2021
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* The Taliban is an organization under UN sanctions for terrorist activities.
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