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'Important Milestone': Biden Reacts To Arrival of First Group of Evacuated Afghan Nationals

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President Joe Biden is praising the arrival of 200 Afghans to the U.S. as an “important milestone.”

The first flight of Operation Allies Refuge arrived in the U.S. on Friday. They and their families are eligible for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV).

The 200 newly arrived Afghans worked with the U.S. government and have faced threats from the Taliban. They primarily worked as interpreters.

“Today is an important milestone as we continue to fulfill our promise to the thousands of Afghan nationals who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops and diplomats over the last 20 years in Afghanistan,” Biden wrote in a statement on Friday.

“These arrivals are just the first of many as we work quickly to relocate SIV-eligible Afghans out of harm’s way—to the United States, to U.S. facilities abroad, or to third countries—so that they can wait in safety while they finish their visa applications.”

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Biden noted that these first Afghans have completed “extensive background checks and security screening” by the Intelligence Community and the Departments of State and Homeland Security. They will complete medical checks in Virginia and the final steps of their visa applications.

“Although U.S. troops are leaving, we will continue to support Afghanistan through security assistance to Afghan forces, as well as humanitarian and development aid to the Afghan people to help them sustain their achievements of the past 20 years.  We will also continue our diplomatic support for the peace process,” Biden also wrote.

Additionally, the president called for “an immediate reduction in violence in Afghanistan, and for all regional actors to encourage the parties to return to negotiations without delay.”

“Most of all, I want to thank these brave Afghans for standing with the United States, and today, I am proud to say to them: ‘Welcome home.'”

In his statement, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “I am profoundly honored to welcome to the United States the first group of Afghan nationals who so admirably helped support the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.”

Mayorkas added, “Under the Biden-Harris Administration, DHS remains committed to ensuring the United States is a beacon for those seeking refuge.”

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Including the 200 newly arrived Afghans, about 2,500 Afghans are expected to be evacuated to the U.S., NBC News reports, citing the Biden administration. The outlet reports, “Another 4,000 are due to be evacuated to third countries or to U.S. military bases overseas. The administration has yet to announce further details.”

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