Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks to the Press

BLINKEN SECRETARY: Good afternoon everyone. I just had the opportunity to visit Camp As Sayliyah. This is a joint Department of Defense, Department of State operation to help bring Afghans, Afghan allies to the United States. This is where we are working to screen them medically, to examine them for security purposes, and to complete the consular processing involved in obtaining a visa to the United States.

This is an extraordinary operation that brings together many parts of our government, starting with DOD and State, but also DHS, DOJ, FBI, and other agencies. For me, it’s very important to get a chance to see all the teams working on this. I’ve done this all over the world, also at Dulles when we brought people there, and it was fun too. I had the opportunity to spend time with some children who, while at Camp As Sayliyah, were going to school – learning English, mathematics, studying history and geography – children not much older than me. And I had the opportunity to tell them that in my case, at an age not too different from theirs, I moved from my own country, the United States, to another, and I knew how scary it was, how challenging it was. , but also how amazing it is that there are so many people in the United States who hope to welcome them.

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At Camp As Sayliyah, since the Afghan evacuation began, we have had about 23,000 Afghans come through; 21,000 are already in the United States, and we’re working to continue getting Afghans out here. We are grateful to our colleagues in Qatar for supporting this operation and helping many Afghans find a new life in the United States.

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At the same time, going back to the beginning of this administration, we have been working to restart, streamline, expedite the entire process of bringing Afghans to the United States who are eligible for special limited visas. These are Afghans who have worked with us, with the Department of Defense, and the Department of State, and others in Afghanistan for more than 20 years. From the beginning of our administration, we have put in significant additional resources. We have worked to streamline the process mandated by Congress to quadruple the number of people working to process SIV visas. The net result is that, among other things, is to make the initial determination of freedom – a critical step in the process – we have reduced that time from about 883 days when we started our administration to 105 days now. We continue to look for ways to streamline the process of moving through those trying to come to the United States as Special Immigrant Visas.

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I said at the beginning, when we do the evacuation from Afghanistan, it will be an enduring mission brought to the Afghans of the United States who stand by us. The mission continues, the mission remains, and we will get through it.

Thank you.

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