DALLAS – As air transport continues to Afghanistan, Texans work to welcome and help resettle some of those fleeing the war-torn nation.
The White House has stepped up efforts in recent days as President Biden meets the August 31 evacuation deadline.
“Completion before August 31 is conditional on the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allowing access to the airport for those who carry them,” Biden said on Tuesday.
Afghans will first travel to a third country in Europe or Asia for a full biometric and biographical review before arriving in the US
Officials anticipate that 25,000 will arrive at four military facilities where they will receive COVID-19 vaccines before moving to places where they call home.
Fort Bliss in El Paso is one of the facilities selected by the military to receive people who are being evacuated. Officials said the refugees will receive full medical tests, mental health assistance and travel assistance.
Among those who come or are already there: American civilians, green card holders, Afghans who served along U.S. forces and have special visa visas for immigrants, and another group called vulnerable Afghans. This includes people who have not completed the 14 steps to obtain a special immigrant visa.
Although the defense department takes the Afghans to American lands, from where they go there are resettlement organizations, such as the Texas refugee services.
“The number of people coming in, can’t be a few places. It will be everyone, all hands on deck. A lot of people will end up in a lot of communities,” said Russell Smith, Texas Refugee Services.
The resettlement organization operates in six Texas communities, including North Texas.
Smith says they literally don’t have delivery time because of the rapid developments on the ground in Afghanistan. He said that in some cases, they receive only four hours of notice from people arriving.
“We have to shuffle my staff, everything is at hand,” Smith said. “We drive to the airports, we pick up families. We put them in hotels until we can set up an apartment. We try to be as agile as possible to make sure we get the families and then, settle them.”
Smith says about 100 have arrived in North Texas, with 100 more scheduled. He hopes that number will increase as Afghans continue to leave the country.
Biden: Evacuations from Afghanistan “currently at a pace” to end before August 31st
Charities working to get the family to flee Afghanistan settled in North Texas
Some Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban control will be resettled in North Texas