One year ago, President Biden directed our Department to lead Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) – the historic effort to resettle vulnerable Afghans who courageously supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. This was the largest resettlement effort since 1975.
Our colleagues undertook the challenge with honor and professionalism. Some left behind loved ones and deployed overseas with little notice. Others built partnerships here in the U.S. with organizations that provided Afghan families with the food, shelter, medical care, job opportunities, and social services needed to find safety and stability in our country. Still others developed and implemented policies, coordinated real-time operations, and worked with interagency partners to ensure that every need was met. All of this was done with our core mission in mind: preserving the public safety and the security of our homeland.
What OAW accomplished will live on for generations, in the stories of the more than 85,000 Afghans living in and contributing to their new communities.
There are many unforgettable moments from this effort. The children waving American flags at Fort Lee as families greeted servicemembers and staff waiting to assist them. A former United States soldier, once assisted by an Afghan interpreter while deployed in 2010, reunited to help his friend navigate the immigration process. The homemade signs and stacks of food and water left by supporters at the Dulles and Philadelphia airports.
Operation Allies Welcome represents the best of our nation’s values and character and our tradition as a place of welcome and belonging. It is a reminder of the great privilege we have to carry out our mission every day.
Thank you for everything you do.
Alejandro N. Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security
John K. Tien
Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.