More Afghan refugees to arrive in North Texas as evacuations continue
DALLAS - As airlifts continue in Afghanistan, Texans are working to welcome and help resettle some of those fleeing the war-torn nation.
The White House has ramped up efforts in recent days, as President Biden holds to his August 31 deadline for evacuations.
"The completion by August 31 is contingent on the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who are transporting out," Biden said on Tuesday.
Afghans will first fly to a third party country in Europe or Asia for full vetting, both biometric and biographic, before coming on to the U.S.
Officials project 25,000 will arrive at four military installations where they will receive COVID-19 vaccines before moving on to places they will call home.
Fort Bliss in El Paso is one of the installations selected by the military to receive those being evacuated. Officials there said refugees will receive full medical screenings, mental health support and travel assistance.
Among those coming or already here include: American civilians, green card holders, Afghans who served along U.S. forces and have Special Immigrant Visas and another group called vulnerable Afghans. That includes people who have not quite completed the 14 steps to get a Special Immigrant Visa.
While the department of defense is getting the afghans to U.S. soil, where they go from there is up to resettlement organizations -- like Refugee Services of Texas.
"The number of people coming, it can’t be a few sites. It’s going to be everybody, all hands on deck. Lots of people ending up in lots of communities," said Russell Smith, Refugee Services of Texas.
The resettlement organization operates in six Texas communities, including North Texas.
Smith says they literally have no lead time because of rapid developments on the ground in Afghanistan. He said in some cases, they are getting just four hours’ notice of people arriving.
"We are having to kind of scramble my staff, it’s all hands on deck," Smith said. "We're driving to airports, picking up families. We're putting them in hotels until we can get an apartments set up. We're trying to be as nimble as we can to make sure that we're welcoming the families and then getting them settled."
Smith says about 100 or so have arrived in North Texas, with 100 more scheduled. He expects that number to rise as afghans continue leaving the country.
Biden: Afghanistan evacuations ‘currently on a pace’ to finish by Aug 31 deadline
Charities working to get family fleeing Afghanistan settled in North Texas
Some Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban control will be resettled across North Texas