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Expand chart
Data: The Refugee Processing Center; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

The number of Afghan allies being brought to the United States on Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) had lagged until the collapse of Afghanistan forced the issue for the Biden administration, according to U.S. government data.

Why it matters: While the chaos around Kabul's airport is a general humanitarian disaster for regular Afghans, it's a special concern for those who helped the U.S. government and military during the past 20 years. When Kabul unexpectedly fell, efforts to speed up the 14-step SIV process were too little, too late.

  • The helpers now fear retaliation from the Taliban.
  • A national security contact in touch with Axios' Glen Johnson relayed a text from an SIV applicant hiding in the city: "People have come to our home asking about me and my mother. ... They told [my sister] to better find me and my Mom next time they visit."

By the numbers: More than 8,000 Afghans arrived during a five-month period from the end of 2019 to the beginning of 2020. But then for over a year, only a couple hundred SIV applicants managed to make it to the U.S. each month, according to the data.

  • It took until July for the Biden administration to again bring in more than 1,000 Afghans during a single month.
  • Even when President Trump began announcing his intention to withdraw troops toward the end of 2020, far fewer Afghan SIV holders were arriving than in earlier years.
  • Coronavirus protocols shuttered embassies around the world and entirely suspended critical in-person SIV interviews in Kabul for almost a year, as Axios has reported.

Be smart: Lawmakers, veterans and even members of the State Department complained throughout this year that President Biden was too slow in accelerating the process before the collapse of the government made the problem eminently clear. (Subscription required.)

Go deeper

Aug 15, 2021 - World

Blinken: "This is manifestly not Saigon" all over again in Afghanistan

As video emerged on Sunday of military helicopters landing near the U.S. embassy in Kabul to rapidly evacuate U.S. personnel, Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured: "This is manifestly not Saigon."

Driving the news: Blinken made the rounds on the Sunday shows to defend President Biden's resolute withdrawal of the U.S. military as Kabul nears complete surrender to the Taliban.

Updated Aug 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden hasn't ruled out sending more troops to Kabul, national security adviser says

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that President Biden hasn't ruled sending more troops to the airport in Kabul, but "at the moment, we believe we have sufficient forces on the ground.”

The big picture: The president's senior national security team made the rounds on the Sunday political talk shows to explain — and defend — the Biden administration's handling of the ongoing turbulence in Afghanistan.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.