Saturday, August 28, 2021

Shelter from the Storm: First Afghan Families Arrive in the US

by Nomad

A family evacuated from Afghanistan arrives at Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia.

As The New York Times reported:
Thousands of Afghan refugees and Americans have arrived in the Washington region in the past few days, finding shelter and a sense of relief after shuffling from country to country and sometimes fending off violent attacks from the Taliban while fleeing Kabul.

U.S. evacuation flights so far have landed at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. An article on VOA outlines what happens to refugees after they arrive in the US.
U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can go on to their destinations after they have been tested for COVID-19. SIV-eligible Afghans and other Afghan arrivals go to U.S. military bases in Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and New Jersey for processing, according to people familiar with the procedure. From there, they will receive a health screening and help in applying for work authorization, along with other services. The processing can take anywhere from a day to a week or more. 
After processing at the military bases, Afghans will be connected with a U.S. refugee resettlement organization, a senior U.S. official said. t groups will provide eligible Afghans with housing, furniture and food, and help them adjust to life in the United States.
Naturally, there are legitimate concerns about US security. So what steps are being taken to attempt to lessen the risk of terrorist infiltration?
Afghans seeking SIVs must complete a 14-step application process that includes a visa interview and security screening.
The Biden administration has said that SIV applicants further along in the application process have been allowed to enter the United States.
Applicants in earlier stages are being sent to third countries, including Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Germany. In those countries, the Afghans undergo "robust security processing," the senior administration official said.
"That process involves biometric and biographic security screenings conducted by our intelligence, law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals who are working quite literally around the clock to vet all of these Afghans before they're allowed into the United States," the official said.

With the terror attacks on Kabul airport this week, these refugees are part of the lucky few who made out in one piece. 

So now, the process of starting a new life begins. America must be like a completely alien world for them. And adjusting to life there will certainly be stressful, but right now I'd imagine they are mostly feeling very relieved that their family is safe.