News | Feb. 19, 2022

Operation Allies Welcome Announces Departure of All Afghan Nationals from U.S. Military Bases

By Department of Homeland Security Public Affairs

Operation Allies Welcome announced that all remaining Afghan evacuees have departed Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, where they have been temporarily housed since evacuating Afghanistan, to be resettled in their new communities across the nation. To date, approximately 84,600 Afghan nationals, American citizens, and Lawful Permanent Residents have arrived in the U.S. as part of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), including more than 76,000 Afghan nationals who have now joined communities across the country. OAW is the coordinated effort across the federal government to support and resettle vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked on behalf of the United States.

The federal government is working closely with state and local partners to transfer domestic safe haven operations from Department of Defense (DOD) installations to a single non-DOD domestic facility as we continue to welcome Afghans who have been fully screened and vetted to our country through OAW. At that location, OAW-eligible Afghans will complete processing before being connected with a resettlement agencies and partners who will help them move to their new communities. We are still working to confirm the location of the new safe haven and will make an announcement with our state and local partners once we do so.

Until the new safe haven begins operations in the coming weeks, the safe haven at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will remain open and operational in a limited capacity, and will continue to welcome Afghan families who arrive in the interim through Operation Allies Welcome. Since August, numerous federal agencies, resettlement affiliates, and non-profit organizations have worked together to help Afghan evacuees complete processing at safe havens and move to their new communities. The United States will continue welcoming additional qualifying Afghans over the coming weeks and months. 

“At the President’s direction, the Department of Homeland Security has proudly served as the lead federal agency coordinating Operation Allies Welcome, a whole-of-society effort to help vulnerable Afghans. Over the last six months, thousands of federal staff, servicemembers, and volunteers have dedicated their time and effort to ensuring all of our Afghan allies could successfully join new communities in the United States,” said Robert J. Fenton, Jr., Senior Response Official for Operation Allies Welcome. “It has been my honor to work alongside such a dedicated group of public servants, volunteers, private partners, and local communities in this historic operation.”

“U.S. Northern Command, Army North and the men and women of Task Force Liberty at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst remain ready to support DHS if required. I commend the service members and the entire team for their outstanding work thus far,” said Gen. Glen VanHerck, U.S. Northern Command commander. “From the beginning, across each of the eight task forces on DoD installations, our service members and interagency teammates have embraced this important mission and have had an immense impact. I could not be more proud of all that has been accomplished.”

“We commend the extraordinary work of the resettlement agencies, and their local affiliates and community partner organizations – more than 350 total – for working tirelessly around the clock to find new homes for Afghan families and help set them up for success throughout the United States. Thanks to their dedication, and that of countless staff, volunteers, and community sponsors across the country, we are proud to have served the largest number of new arrivals at one time in over fifty years, and will remain steadfast in our commitment to serving those in need,” said Nancy Izzo Jackson, Senior Bureau Official for the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Prior to entering the United States, Afghan evacuees must successfully complete a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process that includes biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and State; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the National Counterterrorism Center; and other Intelligence Community partners. Afghan evacuees also received age-appropriate vaccinations – which include measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella, polio, and COVID-19 prior to joining communities across the United States. All OAW arrivals are tested for COVID-19.

Those who are interested in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable Afghans can go to www.welcome.us to learn more about how to get involved. Welcome.US is a national non-profit initiative to welcome and support Afghan nationals as they rebuild their lives in communities across America. Groups of individuals and community organizations can also apply to form a sponsor circle to directly support arriving Afghan evacuees. For more information on the Sponsor Circle Program and to learn how to apply to form a sponsor circle, visit www.sponsorcircles.org.

Operation Allies Welcome is the coordinated effort across the federal government to support and resettle vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked on behalf of the United States. For more information, visit www.dhs.gov/allieswelcome