El Paso, TX

Fort Bliss to House Refugees From Afghanistan

Tom Handy

Afghan nationals moving in to Fort BlissAfghanistan image by Amber Clay from Pixabay

The United States has opened doors to about 30,000 Afghan nationals and housing them in El Paso at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. This was reported by Jacqui Heinrich, a FOX News Correspondent.

What Afghans are coming to the United States

The incoming Afghan citizens to El Paso will be those who applied for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). These visas are given to those employed by, or on behalf of, the US government. Some of the individuals include people who were interpreters or translators for the US military. These Afghan nationals could be in immediate danger as the Taliban' take over the country.

"We want to have the capacity to get up to several thousand (Afghans) immediately, and want to be prepared for the potential of tens of thousands," said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby to Heinrich. "(Forts) Bliss & McCoy have the capability right now — what's advantageous is with a bit of work, (this) could increase in short order."
"Once we get more airlift out of Kabul, we're going to put as many people on those planes as we can. There will be a mix, not just American citizens, but perhaps some Afghan SIV applicants as well," Kirby told Heinrich. "We're going to focus on getting people out of the country, then sorting it out at the next stop. It's not going to be just Americans first, then SIV applicants."

Americans who are in Afghanistan are getting priority flights to return first.

The Taliban was last in control of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Commercial flights out of the country have been suspended. Recent images have shown many Afghan nationals have been forcing their way trying to board planes.

Nicola Careem, BBC South Asia's bureau chief, sent a tweet of a video and said: "This is, perhaps, one of the saddest images I've seen from Afghanistan. A people who are desperate and abandoned. No aid agencies, no UN, no government. Nothing."

The Pentagon recently gave its response to housing Afghan nationals in the United States.

We want to have capacity to get up to several thousand immediately, and want to be prepared for potential of tens of thousands,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby was quoted as saying. “Bliss and McCoy have capability right now – what’s advantageous is with a bit of work, it could increase in short order.”

The end date for the Afghanistan exit

With the rush to get American and Afghanistan personnel out of the country, all eyes are pointing to August 31.

Secretary Lloyd Austin has made it very clear to the department and to military leaders that he wants additional options,” Kirby told Fox News. “We all share a sense of urgency and we’re going to be leaning forward to help the State Department as much as we can.”
​Asked about a timetable, Kirby said: “The president gave us August. 31​ ​as an end date, so that’s what we’re focused on.”

Besides housing Afghan nationals, Fort Bliss is still housing migrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Fort Bliss has its hands full with migrants from southern countries. Now with the addition of Afghans fleeing their own country, the base will be very busy. This will require personnel to keep the two groups processed through the base before they move on.

El Paso itself has been busy with more people from other countries who have made their way to the city. Migrants from Haiti have made El Paso their home, either temporarily or permanently. The Haitians face a big challenge since some do not speak Spanish but they speak Haitian Creole. Some Haitians do speak Spanish and they can get by.

El Paso is becoming the new melting pot for foreigners making their way to America.

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