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.”
President Joe Biden welcomed the refugees and praised their arrival as “an important milestone.”
“I want to thank these brave Afghans for standing with the United States, and today, I am proud to say to them: ‘Welcome home.”
“I want to honor all those in the United States who have spoken out on behalf of these brave Afghans, including the proud community of veterans, who have consistently advocated for the Afghans who were by their side in the field in Afghanistan, often serving as translators and interpreters. And I want to thank the diplomats and public servants across our government and around the world who are working tirelessly as part of Operation Allies Refuge,” the President said in a statement.
The group will finish their application process at Fort Lee in Virginia.
750 Afghans and their families are expected to relocate to the United States. Since the program began in 2008, more than 70,000 Afghans have received visas.
The State Department, the Pentagon, and the Department of Homeland Security are working together to complete the mission to relocate these individuals. In April, the President announced that his administration is working to remove soldiers from Afghanistan by August 31—some soldiers will remain to conduct special missions.