- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 23, 2021

All Afghan evacuees have been processed and released from the Marine Corps base at Quantico, the Biden administration announced Thursday, shutting down the second of eight bases that had been housing the refugees who were rescued as part of the August airlift.

The other six bases remain as “safe havens” with about 25,000 evacuees still there.

About 49,000 Afghans have been processed and released, the government said.

“As another one of our safe haven locations completes operations, we remain steadfast in our commitment to safely welcome our Afghan allies to the United States,” said Robert J. Fenton Jr., the coordinator for Operation Allies Welcome, the Biden administration’s name for the airlift and resettlement effort.

The Afghans were brought out in August as their home country’s government collapsed and the Taliban took over, sparking a chaotic effort by U.S. officials to airlift as many people as possible.

More than 75,000 Afghans made it onto flights.

The airlift was billed as a way to rescue Afghans who had assisted the U.S. war effort and are eligible for a special visa. In reality, only about 40% of those brought out are likely to be able to get the special visa.

Others were deemed “vulnerable” by the government, though analysts say many who made it out weren’t in danger, while truly vulnerable Afghan allies were left behind.

Evacuees were first taken to sites overseas where the identities they gave to officials were run through databases. If no flags were raised, they were admitted to the U.S., usually under Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ parole powers.

Only in instances where the database check raised questions did immigration and security officials conduct interviews.

That’s a lower standard than the refugee process, which the government had initially signaled it would be following.

Once in the U.S., Afghans were brought to eight military bases for more processing, medical evaluations, COVID-19 testing and a round of vaccinations.

Some have walked off the base and disappeared into communities, but most of the 49,000 released were fully processed and turned over to nongovernmental organizations who then resettle them in communities.

Quantico joins Fort Lee, also in Virginia, as the two bases that have released all Afghans.

Evacuees are still being processed at Camp Atterbury, Indiana; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Pickett, Virginia; and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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