Former Afghan interpreters, who worked with U.S. troops in Afghanistan, demonstrate in front of the U.S. embassy in Kabul in June. REUTERS photo

Rep. Sara Jacobs, a leading advocate of resettling threatened Afghan allies and their families, on Tuesday applauded the State Department’s expansion of the program.

Late Monday the resettlement program was expanded to include thousands of “priority two” allies, covering Afghans who worked for U.S.-funded projects and for U.S.-based non-government bodies and media outlets.

“We have an obligation to support those who supported us in Afghanistan. Withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan is the right thing to do. And as we move forward, we must continue to work so that any Afghan national who helped our efforts, including women and community leaders, is taken care of as they now face grave security threats,” said Jacobs, who is a member of the influential House Armed Services Committee. 

The program, which the State Department said could help “many thousands” of Afghans, comes as fighting surges in Afghanistan ahead of the formal completion of the U.S. troop withdrawal at the end of this month.

The first planeload of 200 evacuees, many of whom served as translators for the U.S. military, arrived at Fort Lee, VA, for final paperwork processing and medical examinations on Saturday.

As many as 50,000 or more people ultimately could be evacuated in “Operation Allies Refuge”.

President Joe Biden has faced pressure from lawmakers and advocacy groups to help Afghans at risk of Taliban retaliation because of their association with the United States during the 20-year war.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.