First of 9,500 Afghan Refugees Arrive at New Jersey Air Base
(Bloomberg) -- Refugees fleeing the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan have reached a New Jersey military base in the first of what’s expected to be a wave for the state.
“Overnight, task force personnel welcomed the first group,” U.S. Air Force spokeswoman Ariel Owings said in an email. Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, which is 76 miles (122 kilometers) south of Manhattan, is preparing to house as many as 9,500 people for as long as a year, according to a news release.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, meanwhile, said the state has 862 openings toward its commitment to resettle 1,320 refugees in the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Of the 458 people assisted from October 2020 through last month, about half were from Afghanistan.
About 88,000 people have been brought out of Afghanistan by the U.S. and allies, Army Major General William Taylor told reporters Wednesday. In addition to New Jersey, they are at three other bases: Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Lee in Virginia. President Joe Biden has put an Aug. 31 deadline on the operation.
“We expect these arrivals to continue throughout today and the coming days,” Owings said. She didn’t specify the number, nor the mix of men, women and children.
The evacuees have special immigrant visas because they helped during a 20-year military operation following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda terrorists. America has authorized 34,500 visas for applicants who worked for the U.S. government.
“The Afghans we welcome to New Jersey, like so many refugee populations before them, will make enormous contributions to our state’s culture, community and economy,” Governor Phil Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden on Sunday. “New Jersey will be better for having them.”
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