As the United States evacuates thousands of people from Afghanistan, a spokeswoman for Holloman Air Force Base confirmed Friday the base near Alamogordo will be used as a temporary housing site for Afghan refugees. Holloman will join six other U.S. military bases in the operation, including Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.
In a news release, the AFB said the relocation is part of what the U.S. is calling “Operation Allies Refuge,” which will provide “temporary housing and support for up to 50,000 at-risk Afghans.” It’s unclear exactly how many refugees will be staying at Holloman Air Force base, or for how long.
Officials grouped the Afghan evacuees into three categories, including American citizens and green card holders, applicants to the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program and their families, and other vulnerable or at-risk Afghans identified by the U.S. Government. After being tested for COVID-19 in the U.S., citizens and green card holders will be allowed to head to their destination.
Senior Biden Administration officials say others will head to military bases for a full medical evaluation, followed by receiving health care and other assistance for applying for things like work authorizations before moving on to their next destination. Each arriving family will be connected with refugee resettlement organizations, according to officials.
Administration officials did not say Friday which organizations would be working with refugees in New Mexico. They also said it’s unclear how long refugees would stay on base or where they would go, but said the goal was to not have refugees spend months on U.S. military bases. Holloman is said to be the fifth of seven bases to be used for refugee arrival.