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First wave of evacuations from Afghanistan has begun as 200 interpreters arrive in Virginia

"These arrivals are just the first of many as we work quickly to relocate eligible Afghans out of harm’s way," President Biden said.

Updated: July 30, 2021 - 9:49am

About 200 Afghan interpreters and their families arrived Friday in Virginia. They are among the first wave of those who have been evacuated because their work with the United States has made them targets of the Taliban militant group now that the U.S. military has left the country.

Several more flights full of translators and their kin will arrive in the U.S. over the next several days. The Afghans will be resettled across the country.

"Today is an important milestone as we continue to fulfill our promise to the thousands of Afghan nationals who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops and diplomats over the last 20 years in Afghanistan," President Biden said. "These arrivals are just the first of many."

The new arrivals will be relocated through a Special Immigrant Visa and could eventually go to U.S. facilities abroad or to third countries so that they can "wait in safety while they finish their visa applications," Biden also said in a statement.

Taliban forces have targeted interpreters, sometimes killing them, because of their work with U.S. troops, diplomats, and humanitarian agencies. About 20,000 Afghans have applied for special immigrant visas, according to the White House. That number does not include their family members. 

Earlier this week, in a bipartisan effort, the Senate issued more than $1 billion to pay for the evacuations of the thousands of Afghans.