Thousands of unaccompanied children who crossed into the United States will now stay in a Texan refugee camp that also temporarily houses about 10,000 Afghan asylum seekers.
The Biden administration held a media tour of Fort Bliss in El Paso, on Sept. 10. Afghans who were successfully evacuated are now being screened. If everything proceeds as planned they will be released and start a new life in the United States.
After being discharged from the base, resettlement agencies will help them in find new homes. Agencies will prioritize areas where refugees have existing family in America, or where Afghan immigrant groups have resources to help them start a new life.
U.S. Northern Command continues to support @DHSgov and @StateDept in providing temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the United States for up to 50,000 Afghan evacuees. #OperationAlliesWelcome@TheJointStaff @USArmyNorth @DeptofDefense pic.twitter.com/vxNhrQ4LEI— U.S. Northern Command (@USNorthernCmd) September 1, 2021
Thousands of Central American children, who came to the United States in record numbers without accompanying adults, are staying at the same U.S. Army post. They will be reunited with family in the United States, placed to a sponsor, or transferred to a licensed facility according to Newsweek.
Those who stay at the base will receive the COVID-19 vaccination, and be subject to medical and security checks before being allowed to enter the United States.
“Our goal here on Fort Bliss is to ensure the safety of the folks who are under our care and to as expeditiously process them, and allow them to move on to the cities where they can begin their lives,” Federal Coordinator Erik Breitzke said according to the One America News Network.
The Pentagon plans to shelter as many as 50,000 Afghan evacuees plus 22,000 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants across seven military bases in the United States.
“Everyone who is here with us has endured a harrowing journey and they are now faced with the very real challenges of acclimating to life in the United States,” State Department senior official Liz Gracon said according to the publication. “We have been delighted to be a part of welcoming these individuals.”
The federal government spent two weeks constructing a “village” to house the Afghans on the base. BL understands the complex is vast with hundreds of air-conditioned tents serving as dorms and dining halls on scrubby dirt lots.
Different lawmakers have expressed concern about whether the screening process is thorough enough. Many Afghans who worked for the U.S. government went through years of vetting before being hired. They had to complete the same process when applying for an SIV for U.S. allies.