In a special briefing Tuesday, the Biden administration detailed its plan and efforts to relocate and settle Afghan refugees across the country in the near future.
The teleconference was held by the spokesperson office of the Department of State.
“The Department of State works with nine resettlement agencies and their networks of more than 200 local affiliates across the country to resettle Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and Reception and Placement Services,” one senior official said during the briefing.
Non-SIV holders, such as SIV applicants and other vulnerable Afghans who have entered as parolees, are transferred to one of eight domestic military installations for additional immigration processing and medical screenings before they’re resettled, the official continued.
“Afghans granted parole will receive State Department-funded assistance through these resettlement agencies via the Afghan Placement and Assistance Program, the APA. Through the APA Program, individuals will be placed in communities across the country to begin to rebuild their lives,” the official added.
The Department of State reported that more than 124,000 individuals had been evacuated from Afghanistan, including 6,000 American citizens.
On Sept. 3, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said nearly 40,000 people had arrived in the United States, about 20 percent of them are American citizens or permanent residents.
Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees are still being processed in overseas bases such as in the Gulf area and Europe. It’s unclear how many more will come to the United States in the coming months.
During Tuesday’s teleconference, a senior official said that “a core tenet” of the settlement program is family unification.
“As with traditional refugee and SIV resettlement, placement of individuals will prioritize reunification with U.S.-based family and friends and will consider the needs and characteristics of each case,” the official said.
Other factors in determining where Afghans will be relocated include reasonable housing, job opportunities, and community capacity, the official added.
Between October 2001 and August 2021, over 97,000 Afghan refugees and SIV recipients have settled in the United States, U.S. News reported, citing data from the State Department.
According to the data, over 80 percent of Afghan refugee and SIV recipients were resettled in 10 states since 2001. The 10 states are California, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Maryland, New York, Georgia, Arizona, Colorado, and Missouri. California alone admitted 31,695 Afghan refugees, almost one-third of the total.
During the teleconference, officials said HHS would provide vaccines, “short-term emergency health insurance,” and “time-limited cash and medical assistance” to refugees and all other eligible populations, among other services.
HHS has requested additional funding to support these new arrivals from Afghanistan, the official added.
In August, President Joe Biden authorized an extra $500 million for relocating Afghan refugees, including applicants for SIVs.
Last week, the Biden administration requested Congress to provide $6.4 billion in the fiscal year 2022 to support processing Afghan refugees, provide resources for new and future Afghan arrivals, and for other humanitarian needs.