FORT LEE, Va. (WRIC) — The first Afghan nationals who assisted American troops overseas are being evacuated and are expected to arrive in Virginia on Thursday, according to a U.S. government source.
Many of these visa seekers worked as translators for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
The U.S. government is working to move these individuals as troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, leaving America’s Afghan comrades at risk of violence by the Taliban.
8News reached out to government leaders and agencies on Wednesday for an update on the progress of around 2,500 Afghans scheduled to arrive at Fort Lee pending visa approval. One source told 8News that some Afghan nationals will arrive at the Army garrison south of Richmond this week.
The Associated Press previously reported that Afghan nationals will stay at Fort Lee temporarily. The Biden Administration said about 2,500 people would go there if their visas got approved; about 20,000 total Afghan nationals have applied to move to the U.S.
Temporary housing at Fort Lee will be given for initial applicants seeking a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), and for those who have cleared the security process, according to U.S. Department of Defense Press Secretary John Kirby earlier this month.
“This initial group, of SIV applicants would be able to, while at Fort Lee, will be able to safely complete the final steps of the SIV process, such as final medical screenings and final administrative requirements,” Kirby said.
The relocation efforts were lauded by residents of Hopewell Wednesday, which is adjacent to Fort Lee.
They helped us so we should help them, and protect them for their courage enough to help Americans in a war,” Duncan Schirmer said.
“I think as long as they have been vetted, and everything is kosher…’ ‘…if they’re our allies, that’s a good thing–they should be rewarded,” Robert Morris said.
While these initial SIV applicants are expected to come to Virginia Thursday, the timing of their arrival has not been announced. A spokesperson fro the U.S. State Department declined to comment to 8News, citing security concerns.
This is a developing story, stay with 8News for updates.