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7% of 60,000 Afghan evacuees in the US are American citizens, Mayorkas says

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas participates in a virtual conference Feb. 23, 2021. (Department of Homeland Security/Released)
September 22, 2021

Just seven percent of those evacuated from Afghanistan during President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal who have been transported to the United States are U.S. citizens, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admitted during a virtual hearing with the Homeland Security Committee Wednesday.

During the hearing on “Worldwide Threats to the Homeland: 20 Years After 9/11″ as reported by the New York Post, Sec. Mayorkas revealed that of the 60,000 Afghan nationals who have arrived in the U.S. after being evacuated, roughly 7 percent are U.S. citizens, around 6 percent are lawful permanent residents and approximately 3 percent hold Special Immigrant Visas (SIV).

The thousands remaining are SIV applicants who are still being processed, locally employed staff, human rights activists, journalists and Afghans. According to the Wall Street Journal, roughly 40,000 Afghan civilians have been brought to the United States without being formally classified as refugees due to the rushed evacuation.

On Monday, the State Department confirmed that President Biden is raising the cap on refugee admissions to 125,000 in the government’s budget starting Oct. 1.  

“A robust refugee admissions program is critical to U.S. foreign policy interests and national security objectives, and is a reflection of core American values,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Earlier this month, the White House asked Congress to make welfare benefits available to Afghan evacuees who have been paroled into the U.S. The $6.4 billion request includes funding to help resettle the Afghans. The Biden administration also sought to make the Afghans eligible for a driver’s license or ID card.

The Afghans would also be granted a year-long grace period to apply for asylum or visas.  

“Without the anomaly, paroled individuals from Afghanistan would not be eligible for resettlement assistance, entitlement programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food assistance, and other benefits,” the White House stated. “The language also authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to adjust the status of these individuals to that of a lawful permanent resident upon meeting requisite criteria.”

President Biden left “thousands” of lawful permanent residents of the U.S. stranded in Afghanistan after the chaotic evacuation from Kabul that resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. troops, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

During a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken said the Biden administration’s “best estimates are that there’s several thousand green card holders in Afghanistan.”

According to Blinken, the administration is working to secure the departure of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies who were left behind enemy lines, but the number of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants is still unclear.

“Those are numbers that we’re working on right now as people come out of Afghanistan — some of them in the United States already, others at these transit points — we’re collecting all of that information,” Blinken testified.