Many more are still trapped as Taliban fighters tighten their grip around rural areas. The administration has been opaque about who precisely will receive passage, and many fear that they will never be found.
On Thursday, Congress agreed to expand the number of special immigrant visas available for Afghans to 19,000 from 11,000 and broaden the universe of people eligible for them by removing some application requirements. The measure, part of a $2.1 billion emergency spending bill, also includes hundreds of millions of dollars for government programs that aid and resettle refugees and migrants.
Mr. Biden and other top administration officials say they are committed to assisting Afghans who braved dangers and hardships to aid the United States during its longest war. “We have spoken many times about the moral obligation we have to help those who have helped us,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement last week.
Military veterans, some members of Congress and refugee groups have pushed to speed up the evacuations. But concerns that a processing error could result in a security problem have kept that pressure in check, said several people who talked to administration officials in recent weeks.
“Realistically, one cannot bring 20,000 interpreters directly into the United States,” said Mary Kaszynski, the director of government relations for VoteVets, a veterans organization that has focused on the issue for years because many members remain close with the interpreters they worked with in Afghanistan. “That wouldn’t be safe, that wouldn’t be good for U.S. interests and that is why they had to implement a staged approach.”
Ross Wilson, the charge d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, heralded the success of the first flight but acknowledged the difficulties that lie ahead for the thousands more awaiting refuge as the security situation across Afghanistan deteriorates.
“Much work remains ahead to meet America’s commitment to those who have been committed to us,” Mr. Wilson told reporters Friday at a news conference held at the embassy.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/us/politics/afghan-interpreters-evacuated.html