CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — For Afghan refugees hoping to become U.S. citizens, escaping Taliban-controlled Kabul is only the first hurdle.
President Joe Biden said Sunday that refugees from Afghanistan will undergo serious vetting — in military bases and transit centers around the world — before boarding planes to the United States.
“At these sites where they are landing, we are conducting thorough security screening for everyone who is not a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. Anyone arriving in the United States will have undergone a background check.”
“We have established a network of transit centers in multiple countries in the (Persian) Gulf and Europe,” U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier Monday. At those centers, “We are getting U.S. citizens on flights home, and running biometric and biographic background checks on Afghan evacuees before bringing them to the United States or having them relocated to a third country.”
According to a Washington Examiner report, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Monday that evacuees from Afghanistan arriving in the United States are also being tested for COVID-19 and will be offered vaccines.
“They are being tested, and we are working through offering vaccines and what that process will look like,” Psaki told reporters.
The effort to relocate Afghan evacuees has gotten a significant boost from use of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet —18 aircraft from six U.S. commercial airlines, U.S. Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor said today at a Pentagon news briefing.
Within the last 24 hours, approximately 16,000 passengers were flown out of Kabul to “temporary safe haven locations across Europe and the Middle East,” Taylor said. The fact that evacuees have found temporary homes in Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Italy, Spain and Germany is a “testament to the importance of our alliances and our partnerships.”
Thanks in part to the CRAF, within the past 24 hours, 1,300 evacuees have been landed at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. Military installations in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia are also taking in evacuees, Taylor said.
Since emergency evacuations began Aug. 14, he added, about 37,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan.
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