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Local Interpreters Warn Of Disaster As US Pulls Out Of Afghanistan
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Photo by David Guttenfelder AP
The U.S. State Department has not released the plan for how it will process the Afghans who have already applied for a Special Immigration Visa, though more details are emerging this week.
Rahmat Mokhtar immigrated from Afghanistan to San Diego in 2016 with his wife. An interpreter who worked with the Marines, he’s watching nervously as the U.S. pulls out without announcing a final plan for thousands of Afghan citizens who worked with the U.S.
“The system itself is not working. It’s just a crippled system," Mokhtar said. "I’m happy for the people who are coming to Fort Lee.”
Mokhtar's extended family, including his parents and nine siblings, are still in Afghanistan. Some of his relatives have received letters saying they are Taliban officials, who are demanding they pay a special religious tax.
The Pentagon announced this week that 2,500 people will be housed at Fort Lee Virginia, while they complete the final stages of the naturalization process. It’s a fraction of the 20,000 people who have applied to emigrate to the U.S., as part of the SIV program. There are at least 70,000 to 100,000 people waiting in line, including thousands of family members.
“I am afraid that you will see in months and years, that you will see people are being hanged out there and tortured or killed because of their association with the U.S. military,” Mokhtar said.
The U.S. has targeted the end of the month to pull its forces from Afghanistan. The Biden administration has said they will relocate the people who have applied under the SIV program to a third country, possibly Guam, while they go through the process.
Mokhtar says the number of people who have applied is still a fraction of the Afghans who may be targeted in the coming years. The people being brought into Fort Lee are only expected to stay for a few days, before resettling in the U.S.
Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby says the Department of Defense is opening to housing others if requested of the State Department, potentially at other sites around the country.
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