WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The deadline to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan is approaching, and officials with the Pentagon say only 7,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul this week. That’s much lower than the goal of evacuating 5,000 to 8,000 Americans and eligible Afghans per day.
“We want to make sure we are taking care of those people who have helped us,” Rep. Rob Wittman said.
The Virginia Republican wants not only U.S. military and their families out safely, but the Afghan translators that helped over the last 20 years. He’s worried they won’t get out in time.
“There are so many SIV – Special Immigrant Visa – applications that the State Department is just overwhelmed,” Wittman explained.
Wittman says, in addition to Special Immigrant Visas, the humanitarian parole option could allow Afghan allies into the United States temporarily.
“We encourage everyone that is there in Afghanistan trying to get out to pursue both of those processes in unison,” he said.
The Pentagon says the Kabul airport is secure, but Nexstar’s Washington D.C. bureau asked Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby what they’re doing to make sure U.S. citizens and our allies can even get to the airport.
“There has been no hostile interactions between the Taliban and our forces,” Kirby said Thursday.
And Kirby adds they’ve made something clear to the Taliban.
“Any attack on our people and our operations at the airport will be met with a forceful response.”
For now, U.S. troops are still scheduled to be out of the country by Aug. 31. The Pentagon says any change to that deadline would require new conversations with the Taliban.