Advocates Call on Biden Admin to Move Faster on Resettling Afghan Refugees

President Joe Biden has allocated $500 million in new funds for relocating Afghan refugees following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. The U.S. had already vowed to help evacuate over 80,000 Afghan civilians who qualify for special immigrant visas and face possible retribution from the Taliban, such as translators and interpreters for the U.S. military or NATO, but critics say the Biden administration needs to move faster and expand refugee resettlement from the country. There is already a backlog of more than 17,000 Afghan nationals and 53,000 of their family members awaiting visa approval. “This entire backlog and this delay in evacuating people could have been handled very differently,” says Manoj Govindaiah, the director of policy and government affairs at RAICES, which has resettled more than 600 Afghan refugees since 2017, including 116 this year alone –– among them, 79 children, and a family of 10 just last night. “Trump announced in February of 2020 that he was going to be withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan,” Govindaiah notes. “At that moment, we’ve known that this day is coming and these people are vulnerable.”

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