US resettles last Afghan refugees at Fort Lee

The last group of Afghan nationals housed at a military base in Virginia has been resettled, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Wednesday.  

Fort Lee, Va., was one of eight installations that the Defense Department established to temporarily house refugees as part of the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Biden administration first began housing refugees who were applying for special immigrant visas (SIV) there in mid-July.

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Overall, more 25,000 evacuees have been resettled as of Wednesday, DHS said, while a remaining 45,000 await resettlement at seven additional bases in Virginia, Indiana, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin.

“As we complete operations at Fort Lee, we are incredibly proud of the collaboration that has led to the resettlement of more than 25,000 vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked on behalf of the United States, into local communities across our country,” Robert Fenton, who heads the U.S.’s resettlement effort, said in a statement.

The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan on Aug. 31 and evacuated over 124,000 people as part of the effort, the majority of whom were Afghans.

Most of the screenings that evacuees undergo take place at military bases in the Middle East and Europe, before refugees get to the United States. This screening includes biometric and biographic screenings.

Afghans are vaccinated for conditions like measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), COVID-19 and polio before they enter the U.S.

About 2,600 evacuees are still at bases in the Middle East and Europe as of Nov. 15, CBS News reported.