John F. Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, spoke opaquely about this option last week when he told reporters that the administration might potentially house some of the Afghans at bases inside the United States on a “short-term” basis while their applications are processed. This would most likely be through humanitarian parole, a government program that allows people to apply to enter the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons.
The vast majority of Afghan applicants and their families, however, would go through the relocation process and be moved to an American base in another country.
“Clearly, we are planning for greater numbers than just this initial 2,500,” Mr. Kirby said. “But what that looks like over time, I just couldn’t be able to predict right now.”
Applicants and their families will stay in available barracks or family housing units at Fort Lee. The Pentagon also will provide “food and water, proper sustenance, appropriate medical care,” including coronavirus screening, Mr. Kirby said.
The mission is aimed at fulfilling a pledge by President Biden to not repeat the abandonment of U.S. allies during the withdrawal from Vietnam, and comes as the Taliban gain more ground throughout Afghanistan, seizing swaths of territory, displacing tens of thousands, and wounding or killing hundreds of civilians.
House members from both parties, who are expected to approve legislation this week increasing the number of State Department special immigrant visas and streamlining the application process, praised the administration’s efforts but complained they should have happened much faster.
“The ability to conduct an evacuation now is going to be different from the ability to conduct an evacuation in August, September, October, November,” Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Colorado and a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said on MSNBC this month. “It’s going to get worse with each passing month.”