Lauren Moye, FISM News
The sixth of eight facilities for Afghan refugees finished emptying its inhabitants this past week by resettling them throughout the U.S. This means that, to date, over 68,000 Afghanistan nationals have now been dispersed into the United States.
Fort Pickett, located in Virginia, announced the final departure from their temporary housing facilities on Wednesday.
“Task Force Pickett is the sixth of eight task forces on Department of Defense installations here in the U.S. to complete its support to Operation Allies Welcome,” said General Glen D. VanHerck, who serves as commander over the U.S. Northern Command.
The Virginia facility personally provided services and helped resettle over 10,000 evacuees who came to the U.S. after the fall of Kabul back in August. The operation, also called OAW, sought to provide temporary care and support while preparing the refugees for new lives within America. Over 290 different resettlement affiliates assist with this process.
VanHerck said, “I remain impressed with how our military members and the interagency team at Fort Pickett worked together to enable the resettlement of more than 10,300 Afghan personnel to their new communities here in America.”
Robert J. Fenton, Jr., a senior official for OAW, applauded these partnerships that helped empty Fort Pickett. He said, “We continue to work in close partnership with state and local leaders, non-profit organizations, and communities across the country, and I would like to thank the federal staff, service members, and volunteers who stepped up to support this whole-of-society effort.”
There are approximately 7,000 evacuees left at two remaining facilities: Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
The non-profit initiative website for OAW describes the evacuees as having “aided American diplomatic, military, or civic agencies as interpreters, translators, professionals, or other support personnel – and are actively at risk of persecution by the Taliban.” For this reason, the Department of Homeland Security states that over 40% of the evacuees are eligible for lawful permanent residency under Special Immigrant Vistas.
Refugees are required to go through “a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process that includes biometric and biographic screenings” before acceptance into a temporary housing facility. However, this does not always mean that the evacuees are safe and trouble-free. Two weeks ago an Afghan national at a similar camp housed on the grounds of Virginia’s Quantico Marine Corps Base was convicted of molesting a three-year-old refugee.
There is also a financial cost on taxpayers despite the presence of corporate sponsors like Walmart, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Uber. According to Military.com, the Quantico refugee camp left a bill of $188 million when those temporary housing facilities were emptied.