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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

Arkansas LGBTQ+ Advancement Fund taking applications

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Organizations that provide critical services to the LGBTQ+ community in Arkansas may now apply for grants up to $150,000.

  • Critical services include legal, health, education and advocacy services, as well as other high-demand needs.

What happened: Arkansas LGBTQ+ Advancement Fund was created in June with seed funding of $1 million from the Alice L. Walton Foundation and from Olivia and Tom Walton through the Walton Family Foundation.

Why it matters: A record number of bills targeting trans youth have marginalized transgender people and others identifying as LGBTQ+ who live in the Natural State.

Details: Grants will be made between $25,000 and $150,000. Applicants must be based in Arkansas or have a significant presence in the state.

  • Program grants will support the costs for initiatives, activities or projects that directly support LGBTQ+ Arkansans.
  • Impact grants are for Arkansas-based grassroots organizations led by and serving LGBTQ+ communities with an annual operating budget of $150,000 or less.

The first application deadline is Nov. 22. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed in following grant rounds.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.