Biden authorizes $500M more for Afghan refugee relocation
President Biden has allocated $500 million in additional funds for relocating Afghan refugees, including applicants for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), in response to the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country.
The funds were announced by the White House late Monday to meet “unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs” and for “the purpose of meeting unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs of refugees, victims of conflict, and other persons at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan.”
The president’s order follows the fall of Kabul on Sunday, which left Americans and Afghan civilians desperately trying to escape the country.
“Such assistance may be provided on a bilateral or multilateral basis as appropriate, including through contributions to international organizations and through funding to other nongovernmental organizations, governments, and United States departments and agencies,” Biden wrote in a memo to the secretary of State to authorize the funds.
Biden’s order was made through the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962, which allows a president to help displaced people during global conflicts.
The president said in remarks on Monday defending his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan that his administration would expand refugee access to include other vulnerable Afghans not already covered by SIVs, including volunteers for nongovernmental organizations and news personnel.
The U.S. had previously pledged to help evacuate over 80,000 Afghan civilians who qualify for SIVs, such as people who worked with the U.S. or international organizations and risk retribution from the Taliban.
Biden also said on Monday that the U.S. would evacuate thousands of American citizens who had been living and working in Afghanistan.
While the U.S. has reportedly come to an agreement with the Taliban to allow the safe passage of Americans, foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghans to the airport in Kabul for evacuation, the Pentagon sent thousands of U.S. troops to help with removing people and to secure the facility.