WASHINGTON — The primary group of Afghans promised refuge by the Biden administration for serving to the USA in the course of the 20-year warfare in Afghanistan landed on American soil early Friday, beginning a brand new life chapter after years of ready.

About 250 Afghan interpreters, drivers and others who labored with the U.S. navy, in addition to their relations, arrived at Dulles Worldwide Airport outdoors Washington after touring greater than 30 hours from Kabul, the Afghan capital, officers stated.

From Dulles, they had been bused to Fort Lee, Va., south of Richmond, the place they are going to keep at a lodge on the bottom for a few week to finish their processing earlier than being resettled in the USA completely, officers stated.

The late-night arrival marked the vanguard of an preliminary group of about 2,500 Afghans being evacuated beneath menace of Taliban reprisals in an effort the White Home calls Operation Allies Refuge. Teams of Afghans will arrive by airplane roughly each three days and be transported to Fort Lee, stated one American official briefed on the preparations.

On the sprawling Military base about 130 miles south of Washington, the Afghans will keep on devoted flooring of the lodge, the place non-public safety moderately than navy police might be in place to make sure their security, officers stated.

An extra 4,000 Afghans who labored with American forces however whose purposes want additional approvals and their households will go to different nations within the coming weeks to finish the visa course of earlier than coming to the USA, officers stated.

The USA is negotiating with Qatar and Kuwait to accommodate hundreds of Afghans at navy bases in these nations for as much as a number of months whereas they full their visa purposes and await clearance to come back to the USA. Diplomats are discussing comparable preparations with Kazakhstan and Kosovo, one official stated.

Lots of the newly arrived interpreters have lengthy been targets of the Taliban for his or her cooperation with American troops in the course of the warfare. Their passage was promised beneath two congressionally devised particular visa packages, however the documentation and safety necessities have bedeviled many candidates.

About 18,000 Afghans have been caught in bureaucratic limbo after making use of for particular immigrant visas, which can be found to individuals who face threats due to work for the U.S. authorities. The candidates have 53,000 relations, U.S. officers have stated.

Many extra are nonetheless trapped as Taliban fighters tighten their grip round rural areas. The administration has been opaque about who exactly will obtain passage, and lots of concern that they are going to by no means be discovered.

On Thursday, Congress agreed to broaden the variety of particular immigrant visas obtainable for Afghans to 19,000 from 11,000 and broaden the universe of individuals eligible for them by eradicating some utility necessities. The measure, a part of a $2.1 billion emergency spending bill, additionally consists of a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} for presidency packages that help and resettle refugees and migrants.

Mr. Biden and different prime administration officers say they’re dedicated to aiding Afghans who braved risks and hardships to help the USA throughout its longest warfare. “It’s one in all our ethical obligations to assist the individuals who have helped us,” Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III stated on Saturday.

Navy veterans, some members of Congress and refugee teams have pushed to hurry up the evacuations. However issues {that a} processing error may end in a safety incident have saved that stress in test, stated a number of individuals who talked to administration officers in current weeks.

“Realistically, one can’t deliver 20,000 interpreters straight into the USA,” stated Mary Kaszynski, the director of presidency relations for VoteVets, a veterans group that has targeted on the problem for years as a result of many members stay shut with the interpreters they labored with in Afghanistan. “That wouldn’t be protected, that wouldn’t be good for U.S. pursuits and that’s the reason they needed to implement a staged method.”