Biden to evacuate Afghans who helped U.S. to Virginia military base

The move is part of the Biden administration's "Operation Allies Refuge."

Updated: July 19, 2021 - 4:54pm

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The White House announced Monday that it plans to place the first group of Afghans being evacuated from their county to a Virginia military base after their lives were threatened.

Among them will be translators and others who helped the U.S. military from 2001, after the 9/11 terror attacks, until the past weeks, as the Biden administration ends American's armed forces presence in that country.

Roughly 2,500 Afghans who have already begun applying for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) are expected to be housed in at the Fort Lee, Va., base while they finish the application process. The application process is long and can take up to 800 days.

The evacuation and placement are part of the Biden administration's "Operation Allies Refuge" which was expected to start at the end of July. 

Congressional Democrats and Republicans have pushed for the U.S. to start the evacuation process because of the growing risks of retaliation, as Taliban forces regain footholds in parts of Afghanistan.

The location in Virginia is different than originally planned. Although a location had not been set, the Pentagon initially was looking at other countries or U.S. bases outside of the continental U.S. 

According to The Hill newspaper, an estimated 18,000 applicants are already awaiting visas, with roughly 53,000 family members seeking to accompany them.