'We are this generation's Ellis Island': 45,000 Afghans housed at US Army bases still wait to be resettled

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Afghan children are seen in a recreation area in an Afghan refugee camp in Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. (Image: Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
  • The US airlifted 73,000 Afghans to the US since the Taliban took over in August, Reuters reported. 
  • Around 45,000 Afghans at US bases are still waiting to be resettled, The Washington Post reported. 
  • There are also another 26,000 applications from Afghans looking to enter the US awaiting review.
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Around 45,000 Afghans housed in temporary camps at US military bases are still waiting to be resettled more than two months after they were withdrawn from Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported. 

"We are this generation's Ellis Island," Curtis Velasquez, an Air Force colonel and "governor" of the "village" at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, told the Post. 

The village at Holloman is one of eight areas on US bases set up to house Afghans as they wait to be resettled in the country. Reuters reported that the White House's National Security Council said 73,000 Afghans have been airlifted to the US.

7,100 ended up at Holloman and more than 4,000 are still housed there, the Post reported. 

Additionally, Reuters reported there are about 26,000 applications from Afghans looking to enter the US under a special programme that are waiting to be reviewed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, a part of the Department of Homeland Security. 

USCIS spokesperson Victoria Palmer told Reuters the agency has been reviewing those applications as they come along and most are handled within 90 days but the increase in applications this year would most likely mean delays, but she did not say for how long. 

The Post reported that those on humanitarian parole here don't have an immediate path to permanent residency and lack access to some benefits offered to refugees such as medical and counseling services. 

The Biden Administration has asked Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would give those resettled in the US the ability to apply for a green card after a year. Human rights non-profit groups like Human Rights First have urged Congress to pass the bill. 

"This is an important step toward helping at-risk Afghans arriving in the United States with nothing, following the fall of the elected government of Afghanistan. It is heartening to see Congress recognise that Afghans starting to build lives here in the United States should be provided with the welcome and integration services and benefits they need," Human Rights First Senior Director of Government Affairs Jennifer Quigley said in a press release.

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