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Press Release // Refugee Resettlement

Last Afghan Refugees Depart US Military Bases for Resettlement

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LIRS Staff

February 19, 2022

Washington, D.C.— The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced the departure of the final Afghan evacuees from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. To date, the United States has welcomed more than 76,000 Afghans to the United States through Operation Allies Welcome.

As Afghan evacuees enter their new communities, their resettlement is led by the Department of State in close coordination with nine national refugee resettlement organizations boasting more than 290 local affiliates. To date, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has resettled approximately 11,000 Afghan evacuees since August 2021.

The following is a statement by Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the nation’s largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable immigrant groups in the U.S.:

“We applaud the herculean effort of our service men and women in uniform who have worked tirelessly to welcome our new Afghan neighbors in this historic mission. We are deeply grateful to the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Defense for what has been a whole-of-government response to the urgent needs of our longtime Afghan friends and allies.

The work of welcome is a marathon, not a sprint. The departure of the final evacuees from domestic military bases is a reminder that this mission has only begun. Their successful resettlement is dependent on sustained support, not only from the federal government, but from local communities, congregations, volunteers, and all those who stand for welcome. While the challenges are significant and enduring, many hands make light work.

We remain confident we can rise to the occasion in light of the overwhelming compassion and generosity of Americans across the country who have answered the call to help. Their message has been crystal clear – Afghan refugees are welcome here.

We urge Congress to match the enthusiasm of their constituents by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act. To stay true to our nation’s promise of protection, we must provide a direct pathway to permanent residence for the tens of thousands of Afghans who risk deportation when their temporary status expires. Similarly, the Biden administration must prioritize the relocation and resettlement of at-risk Afghans still in harm’s way, many of whom are families and children seeking to reunite with their loved ones in the U.S.”

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