Site icon Loudoun Now

Afghan Evacuees Arrive at Loudoun’s National Conference Center

A Marine Corps truck and trailer parked outside of National Conference Center on Feb. 22. [Hayley Milon Bour/Loudoun Now]

The first group of Operation Allies Welcome Afghan evacuees arrived at the National Conference Center on Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday.

A DHS spokesman had said Monday the government would not be giving advance notice, citing operational security.

“While they await to be connected to resettlement agencies and partners who will help them move to their new communities, Afghan evacuees at the NCC will receive support services, be able to apply for their Employment Authorization Documents through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and participate in workshops on U.S. laws and civic education,” Operation Allies Welcome Senior Response Official Robert J. Fenton, Jr. stated. “All Afghan evacuees undergo a multi-layered, rigorous screening and vetting process prior to arriving in the United States, they are required to receive age-appropriate vaccinations and undergo medical screening, including getting tested for COVID-19. We will continue to work closely with state and local partners to ensure we can continue to resettle our Afghan allies as quickly, safely, and successfully as possible.”

The National Conference Center until September will be used exclusively as a “safe haven” site for the federal government’s Operation Allies Welcome, the effort to resettle Afghans who helped the U.S. during its 20-year war in Afghanistan, their families, and others who are particularly vulnerable—such as women who are teachers, women’s rights activists, judges and prosecutors, journalists and others who are targeted by the Taliban. About 1,000 people per month could go through the facility as they arrive in the U.S. at Dulles Airport and wait to find their permanent homes here. Unaccompanied children will not be coming to the center.

Federal agencies and private sector and nonprofit partners are collaborating with an organization called Welcome.US, a national nonprofit initiative that launched in September to channel support from the American public and the private sector to newly arrived Afghans and their families. Additionally another program, Sponsor Cicrcles, directly supports Afghans who have come to the U.S. through Operation Allies Welcome. More information is at sponsorcircles.org.

 Online Q&A Planned March 10

County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and district Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn) will hold a Facebook Live question-and-answer session on the safe haven site Thursday, March 10 from 3-4 p.m. It will be streamed on the Loudoun County Government page on Facebook, Facebook.com/LoudounCountyVa.

Questions should be submitted in advance through an online form at loudoun.gov/safehaven. The deadline to submit questions is noon on March 10. Video of the event will be posted on the county’s Facebook page afterward.

More information is at loudoun.gov/safehaven.