White House preparing to relocate Afghans who helped US

World

In this photo taken on May 28, 2021, Waheedullah Hanifi, an Afghan former interpreter for the French forces speaks during an interview with AFP as he attends a demonstration at the Shahr-e Naw Park in Kabul. – Afghan translators with NATO forces fear regular threats and deadly violence against both them and their families will only increase ahead of a looming deadline for the alliance’s planned withdrawal. – To go with Afghanistan-Britain-conflict-translators, FOCUS by Mushtaq MOJADDIDI (Photo by ZAKERIA HASHIMI / AFP) / To go with Afghanistan-Britain-conflict-translators, FOCUS by Mushtaq MOJADDIDI (Photo by ZAKERIA HASHIMI/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is stepping up preparation to begin relocating tens of thousands of Afghan interpreters and others who worked with U.S. forces during the war to other countries as their applications for U.S. entry are processed, a senior administration official said Thursday.

The official said planning has accelerated in recent days to relocate Afghans — and their families — who assisted Americans during the nearly 20-year-old war to other countries or U.S. territories as their applications are sorted out. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the yet to be publicly announced plans.

The White House on Wednesday began to brief lawmakers on the outlines of their plans, the official said.

With U.S. and NATO forces facing a Sept. 11 deadline to leave Afghanistan, the Biden administration has faced increased pressure from lawmakers, veterans and others to evacuate thousands of Afghans who worked as interpreters or who otherwise helped U.S. military operations there in the past two decades.

“We have a moral obligation to protect our brave allies who put their lives on the line for us, and we’ve been working for months to engage the administration and make sure there’s a plan, with few concrete results,” Republican Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan said during a House hearing last week.

Despite unusual bipartisan support in Congress, the administration hasn’t publicly gone on record in support of an evacuation as it unwinds a war that started after the 9/11 attacks.

“We’re doing the kind of extensive planning for potential evacuation, should that become necessary,”” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters earlier this week.

The move to accelerate plans to relocate Afghans who helped the U.S. effort comes as Biden is set to meet on Friday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation.

The stepped-up relocation effort was first reported by The New York Times

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