The Biden administration has asked U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees to volunteer for assignments to evacuate tens of thousands of Afghans who aided U.S. forces, according to CNN.
“As you may know, country conditions in Afghanistan are rapidly deteriorating. In response to this humanitarian crisis, USCIS has been asked to be prepared to support the United States government Operation Allies Refuge,” a notification sent to USCIS employees said.
The operation launched in July to begin airlifting from Afghanistan those who helped the U.S. for the past 20 years and who now risk being killed by the Taliban.
“Our message to those women and men is clear,” President Joe Biden said earlier this month. “There is a home for you in the United States if you so choose, and we will stand with you just as you stood with us.”
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told CNN that up to 30,000 Afghans — and their family members — are eligible for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), allowing them to permanently live in the United States. According to some estimates that number is far larger, and could be closer to 80,000.
On Monday, responding to criticism for not evacuating Afghan allies sooner, Biden said, “There are concerns about why we did not begin evacuating Afghan civilians sooner. Part of the answer is some of the Afghans did not want to leave earlier, still hopeful for their country.”