Afghan refugees: Families step off bus onto US soil
Afghan families seeking refuge from now Taliban-led Afghanistan arrive on U.S. soil near Washington Dulles International Airport.
STAFF VIDEO, USA TODAY
Austin is expected to welcome nearly 200 Afghan refugees by Sept. 30, according to officials with Refugee Services of Texas.
Afghanistan’s government collapsed last week amid the withdrawal of American troops after nearly 20 years in the country. The Taliban took control of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city, which led to a crush of civilians at the city’s airport in a desperate bid to leave the country.
Refugee Services of Texas announced last week that it expected to resettle more than 300 Afghans in the next few weeks across Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Amarillo and Austin. That number has now increased to 574.
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324 Afghans to be resettled across Texas: 5 families expected in Austin this week
At least 30,000 Afghans may be resettled in the United States in the coming weeks, and many will be temporarily housed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, officials previously reported.
Fort Bliss is one of three Army posts set to receive thousands of Afghan refugees, but little information has been released on when the refugees will arrive.
The Pentagon approved a State Department request to provide temporary housing and support for vulnerable Afghans, including Special Immigration Visa applicants and their families, at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, Fort Lee in Virginia as well as Fort Bliss, according to a statement from Fort Hood officials on Tuesday.
Military officials also said that about 1,022 service members from III Corps at Fort Hood, Fort Bliss and three other Army posts will support Fort McCoy and Fort Bliss in these efforts.
“When our Nation calls, III Corps and Fort Hood answer with action; our troops remain ready to respond to any mission,” said Col. Myles Caggins, III Corps and Fort Hood spokesperson. “The III Corps engineers, military police, medics, and logistics soldiers—men and women — deploying to these temporary housing sites will enable the Department of State to safely and securely process the Afghan evacuees.”
Caggins said III Corps soldiers first deployed to Afghanistan in January 2002 and have continually rotated in the Middle East and South Asia since.
“The Operation Allies Refuge mission is a challenge our troops are trained for,” he said.
Among the estimated Afghan refugees in Texas to be resettled by Sept. 30:
• Austin: 185
• Amarillo: 11
• Dallas: 144
• Fort Worth: 119
• Houston: 115
Officials on Tuesday said that 185 Afghan refugees, the largest intake among the Texas cities, were expected to arrive in Austin by the end of September. Austin is already home to 114 Afghan refugees.
This week, the Austin office of Refugee Services of Texas had already resettled 35 people. A total of 75 so far have been resettled across Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Austin.
Fact-check: Has the U.S. already issued ‘several thousand’ visas to Afghan translators?
“Refugee Services of Texas continues to work with national refugee resettlement partners and the U.S. government to offer protection and resettlement to hundreds of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders and their families who gave everything to help the American military in Afghanistan,” said Russell Smith, CEO of Refugee Services of Texas.
All Afghans who have received Special Immigrant Visas have undergone security background checks and health screenings.
Public support is still needed in helping resettle the refugees. Local organizations have been helping to set up apartments but still need donations and gifts. Donations can be made at: https://www.rstx.org/make-an-impact/.