LAKEHURST, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Twenty-five thousand Afghan refugees traveling to the United States are expected to be housed at four military bases across the country, including Joint Base McGuire-Dix in South Jersey.
The first group of 1,300 refugees arrived Tuesday night at the base in Lakehurst.READ MORE: Murphy: Afghan Refugees Are Welcome In New Jersey, ‘We’re Honored To Do Our Part’
Troops are helping stock the base with supplies, and the federal government will connect the refugees with resettlement organizations.
The base is prepared to house 9,500 refugees.
One refugee resettlement organization, Interfaith Rise, helped an Afghan man whose seven-months-pregnant wife is now desperately trying to escape, spending 12 hours standing in line outside the airport in Kabul.
“She was really emotional. She was saying, ‘This is not how, like, I wanted to go to America,'” he said.
“How desperate do you feel right now, trying to get your pregnant wife over here?” CBS2’s Jessica Moore asked.
“I am highly under stress. Believe me, I was not able to sleep the last two weeks,” he said.
Sayed Mubariz escaped from Afghanistan just two months ago.
“While I was in Afghanistan, every day was, I was expecting to die,” he said.
His work with the U.S. military allowed him to get a special immigrant visa known as an SIV, but his family could not get out.READ MORE: Local Families Desperate To Help Loved Ones Trapped In Afghanistan: ‘They Are Refugees In Their Own Country’
“President Biden, please extend this for two or one month more. At least we can take all those Afghans that are sleeping outside of the airport,” Mubariz said.
But with the White House standing by its Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw, Interfaith Rise has now agreed to increase assistance from 24 families to 100.
“This is the first time since we’ve created Interfaith Rise where something has unfolded where there could be this many people coming at once,” Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale said.
People with SIVs are allowed to settle anywhere they want in the U.S. Those who choose central New Jersey will have help getting settled.
“We wait patiently to see whether people will come or not, and we wait ready,” Kaper-Dale said.
The group will help refugees secure an apartment, find jobs and get settled into their new American community.
If you would like to help, visit interfaithrise.org.
Meanwhile, the group continues their efforts to help refugees rescue the families they left behind.
The other participating bases are located in Wisconsin, Texas and Virginia. The White House says it could open additional bases if necessary.