Multiple hundred Afghan evacuees have departed U.S. military bases of their own accord despite not finishing their resettlement and transition process.
“The number of ‘independent departures,’ which top 700 and could be higher, has not been previously reported. But the phenomenon is raising alarms among immigration advocates concerned about the risks to Afghans who give up on what is now an open-ended, complex and completely voluntary resettlement process,” reported Reuters. “In the speed and chaos of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August following 20 years of war, many evacuees were brought into the United States under a temporary status of ‘humanitarian parole.’ Once transferred to U.S. military bases, refugee resettlement groups and U.S. officials have been trying to connect people with services for a smooth transition to the United States.”
A spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) fully declined to make comment on the information received by Reuters, but stated to the outlet that any evacuees who left the military bases on their own “generally” had ties to the U.S., “such as family members or friends, and resources to support themselves as they settled into a new communities.”
The same spokesperson also stated to Reuters that quite a few of those who have been evacuated from Afghanistan first were actually U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or held Special Immigrant Visas. Reuters went on to note, “leaving early could cost other Afghan evacuees critical benefits – like expedited work permits – and create a slew of legal problems down the road, given the complexities of the U.S. immigration system.”
One such official, who made statements to Reuters on the condition of complete anonymity, stated that the whole situation was “a giant can of worms,” before going on to add that it “could lead to years and years of terrible immigration status problems.”
Fox News issued a report that stated that those leaving the bases “are not breaking U.S. laws and military officials do not have the legal authority to hold them against their will.”
Glen VanHerck, a General with the Air Force, made statements to Fox that the evacuees “are living in a safe and secure environment with climate control billets, eating three healthy meals — and culturally appropriate meals each day, including 24/7 grab-and-go options — and enjoying recreational, classroom and other activities.”
VanHerck went on to state to reporters this past week that any worries concerning crime within the evacuee population are very overblown, as the total number of incidents of robbery and theft were lower than that of the general U.S. population. he stated that there had been only eight cases over the past six weeks.