U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) to meet with Afghan refugees currently sheltering there while they await resettlement.
“I am honored to extend a warm welcome to Afghan families arriving in the United States who have endured immeasurable sacrifice and loss to reach our country,” said Sen. Menendez. “As the world bears witness to the Taliban’s brutal repression of the Afghan people in real time, it is our solemn responsibility to embrace our nation’s legacy as a bastion of hope for vulnerable and marginalized individuals fleeing this humanitarian crisis. I’m incredibly proud to see New Jersey continue that proud history by welcoming Afghan refugees arriving on US shores and am grateful to the airmen and women who have stood up and helped during this process. Robust resettlement efforts, particularly of those Afghans who risked their lives and the lives of their family members in support of our nation, are not only crucial to refugees’ safety, but also a point of pride, a reflection of our fundamental values, a boost to our communities & a service to our nation’s strategic & humanitarian interests.”
“Throughout history, America has been a refuge for individuals fleeing war, persecution, and oppression. America must continue to shine as a beacon of light and hope for those most in need,” said Sen. Booker. “I was moved to meet with and hear the courageous stories of Afghan refugees, many of whom aided our country and our armed forces over the past 20 years. I also want to express my gratitude to the brave men and women who helped evacuate Americans and Afghans in harm’s way, and to Fort Dix and the State of New Jersey for providing shelter to thousands of refugees, and for helping to resettle Afghan families. We proudly welcome our Afghan brothers and sisters with open arms and remain committed to supporting them as they become a part of our great state and nation.”
JBMDL, which began accepting Afghan refugees on August 25th, currently has the capacity to shelter up to 3,500 refugees. As part of a nationwide effort to increase refugee capacity at military bases across the country, JBMDL is working to increase their capabilities to shelter up to 10,000 refugees later this month. Once on site, refugees receive health screenings, including COVID-19 tests and vaccines, medical care, meals and help in applying for work authorization.
JBMDL is one of four U.S. military facilities designated to house Afghan refugees due its capacity and the region’s ability to support them. The other bases are located in Wisconsin, Texas and Virginia. JBMDL previously sheltered about 4,000 Yugoslavian refugees in 1999.
While at JBMDL the senators toured the living facilities, medical screening facility, and dining facility and met with Maj. Gen. Mark D. Camerer, Commander of the Air Force Expeditionary Center, which is headquartered at JBMDL.
Last month, Sen. Menendez led his colleagues in urging the Biden Administration to take swift, robust action to protect and support Afghan women leaders in the wake of the Taliban takeover in the country. The senator also applauded partner nations for hosting Afghan refugees seeking safe haven in the United States.