Afghan visa applicants arrive in Virginia base after years of waiting
The first group of Afghans promised refuge by the Biden administration for helping the US during the 20-year war in Afghanistan landed on American soil early on Friday, starting a new life chapter after years of waiting.
About 250 Afghan interpreters, drivers and others who worked with the US military, as well as their family members, arrived at Dulles International Airport outside Washington after travelling more than 30 hours from Kabul, officials said.
From Dulles, they were bused to Fort Lee, Virginia, south of Richmond, where they will stay at a hotel on the base for about a week to complete their processing before being resettled in the US permanently, officials said.
The late-night arrival marked the vanguard of an initial group of about 2,500 Afghans being evacuated under threat of Taliban reprisals in an effort the White House calls Operation Allies Refuge. Groups of Afghans will arrive by plane roughly every three days and be transported to Fort Lee, said one US official.
At the sprawling army base about 130 miles south of Washington, the Afghans will stay on dedicated floors of the hotel, where private security rather than military police will be in place to ensure their safety, officials said. An additional 4,000 Afghans who worked with American forces but whose applications need further approvals and their families will go to other countries in the coming weeks to complete the visa process before coming to the US.