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The American flag is reflected on the windows of the U.S. embassy building in Kabul on July 30, 2021. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department announced Monday it is expanding grants of eligibility for refugee status in the U.S. for at-risk Afghans, citing an increase in violence by the Taliban ahead of the U.S. military's total withdrawal.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has faced pressure to do more to help Afghans who assisted the U.S. military over the course of the two-decade war. The expansion will allow thousands more Afghans and their family members to apply for permanent refugee resettlement, according to the State Department.

Details: The program covers Afghans who worked with the U.S. as locally-employed staff, including interpreters who didn't qualify for a special immigrant visa because they didn't work directly for the government or didn't hold government jobs long enough.

  • The program will also be expanded to current and former employees of U.S.-based news organizations, people who worked for U.S. government-funded programs or on projects supported by U.S. grants or cooperative agreements, and people who worked for American-based aid groups.
  • It covers current and former staff of the U.S. and NATO operations who previously didn't qualify.
  • Afghans have to be nominated by a U.S. agency or by the most senior U.S. citizen employee at a U.S.-based media outlet or nongovernmental organization.

State of play: The first plane with more than 200 Afghans who served as interpreters, contractors or other ally roles for the U.S. military arrived in Virginia last week. More than 700 Afghan allies and their families are preparing to be brought into the U.S. in the coming days on special immigrant visas.

Go deeper

State Department partners with aid group welcoming Afghan refugees to U.S.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14. Photo: Mandel Ngan-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday that the State Department is partnering with Welcome.US, an aid group helping to welcome and support Afghan refugees who fled their country for the U.S.

Why it matters: The partnership is part of the Biden administration's Operation Allies Welcome, which involves the processing and resettlement of the more than 65,000 Afghans evacuated during the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"An embarrassment": Biden condemns Border Patrol for using horses to deter Haitian migrants

President Biden speaking from the White House on Sept. 24. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Friday condemned Border Patrol officers for using horses to deter Haitian immigrants from an encampment under the international bridge earlier this week but took responsibility for the actions and said an investigation is underway.

Why it matters: Photos of patrol officers charging their horses at immigrants prompted criticism of the Biden administration's handling of the crisis at the border.

Senate GOP pushes DOJ to roll back Trump oversight rule

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Republicans want the Justice Department to roll back Trump-era restrictions on congressional oversight criticized at the time as an attempt to insulate the Trump administration from Democratic investigators, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: While some Republicans spoke out against the DOJ guidance at the time, it was mostly Democrats who attacked it as a constitutionally dubious effort to scuttle congressional oversight. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and the GOP is making similar arguments with Biden in the White House.