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Expand chart
Data: White House; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

The Biden administration notified governors and mayors on Wednesday of the number of Afghan evacuees their state is expected to receive in the coming weeks, two senior administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: Although their exact immigration pathway is still unclear, an initial group of 37,000 Afghans will soon be headed to states across the country after many faced harrowing journeys from Afghanistan.

  • Former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D), who President Biden appointed on Friday to oversee Afghan resettlement, made calls to state and local leaders notifying them on the number of Afghans to expect.
  • In conversations with nearly every state on Wednesday, not one official declined to take in Afghans, one senior administration official told Axios. "I have to say it was a very warm conversation with state and local leaders."

By the numbers: California is projected to receive the largest number of Afghans at 5,255. Next is Texas, at 4,481, according to State Department data obtained by Axios.

  • Hawaii, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming are the only states not slated to receive anyone from the first group of evacuees, along with Washington, D.C.
  • AP first reported on the numbers.

The big picture: The 37,000 is just the first group of Afghans who will be making new homes in American communities. Because they are not coming through the usual refugee process, caring for this population has come with numerous legal and logistical hurdles for groups in charge of their resettlement.

  • Even the housing crunch has had an impact. The administration has been assured by refugee resettlement agencies that the evacuees in the initial group have places to live, an official said.
  • The administration is also looking at launching new resettlement sites in places that have more affordable housing and job opportunities.

Of note: The group of refugees includes some Afghans who helped the U.S. in Afghanistan and applied for the Special Immigrant Visa, but officials declined to provide the exact numbers.

  • More than half of Afghans who have been brought to the states helped the U.S. government or are related to someone who did — that includes both SIV applicants and those who did not apply to the program, an official said.
  • Thousands of others who do not have U.S. citizenship, green cards or Special Immigrant Visas will remain in shelters on military bases across the country, for now.
  • More evacuees are waiting in third countries. Flights from these countries to the U.S. have been suspended due to a handful of measles cases among recently-arrived Afghans, senior officials told reporters on Tuesday.

What to watch: The Biden administration is depending on Congress to unlock additional resources for Afghans brought to the U.S. on "parole." The proposed legislation would also provide them an expedited path to a green card.

  • One senior administration official noted there has been strong bipartisan support for caring for Afghans, especially those who aided the U.S. While legislation is the priority, the administration has also explored potential back-up plans — including ways to expedite the asylum process for Afghans, the official confirmed.

Go deeper

Biden aims to soften Trump policy

U.S. asylum-seekers wait for donated food in Mexico. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Biden administration will restart President Trump's "Remain in Mexico" program in mid-November — but this time, it's considering offering vaccines to asylum-seekers waiting for a chance to immigrate, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: One of President Biden's big campaign promises was to end the program. He did — temporarily. Now, under court order, it's resuming, so the administration is working to make it more humane, and mollify activists who complain he's not trying hard enough to end it.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

4 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.