RCUSA: President Biden must evacuate Afghan allies

Washington, DC — Today, President Biden provided an update on the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. But instead of offering a clear pathway to safety for Afghan allies, the President continued to sow confusion about a possible evacuation of Afghan nationals, providing no concrete details on who would be evacuated, where they would go, or who is leading the operation. The President also falsely claimed that the law does not allow an evacuation of Afghan allies to the United States.

In his remarks, President Biden stated that Afghan allies would be evacuated to locations in third countries, as well as US facilities outside the continental United States. This is unacceptable. By not evacuating all our allies to a US territory, such as Guam, the United States is shirking its moral responsibilities and effectively undercutting the due process and protection options available to them. Continuing the processing of Afghan partners in Guam ensures their immediate safety, allows the process to be conducted in a stable environment with access to necessary resources and due process protections, and provides access to additional humanitarian immigration pathways.

“We are rarely afforded the opportunity to foresee humanitarian crises, yet the country finds itself in such a moment. If the United States fails to evacuate our allies and their families to US soil, we will all but condemn them to a future of uncertainty and persecution,” said John Slocum, Interim Executive Director of Refugee Council USA. “It was disappointing this afternoon to hear the President dodge direct questions about evacuations, seemingly dismissing the severe and immediate needs of our allies and their families.”

The support is clear: leaders from Guamveterans, and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have called for the United States to evacuate all 18,000 Afghans waiting for Special Immigrant Visas and their family members to Guam to continue their visa processing in safety. Not only is an evacuation legal, the United States has the capability and the precedent to meet this obligation. In 1975, the military was able to swiftly mobilize to transport over 100,000 Vietnamese to Guam as the United States withdrew from the country.

Time is of the essence. President Biden stated that “speed is safety” regarding Americans leaving Afghanistan, and that’s no less true for Afghan allies. Despite his earlier promise that the military “are not going to leave anyone behind,” President Biden is putting tens of thousands of Afghan lives in danger by failing to immediately evacuate them to US territories. Refugee Council USA calls on the Biden administration to meet its promise to leave no one behind by immediately evacuating our allies to a US territory for processing. Anything less is an abdication of US values.

RCUSA is a diverse coalition advocating for just and humane laws and policies, and the promotion of dialogue and communication among government, civil society, and those who need protection and welcome. Individual RCUSA members do not all address all refugee-related issues, nor do all individual members approach common refugee-related issues identically.

Media Contact: Sarah Seniuk, sseniuk@rcusa.org