Governor: Outpouring of Hoosier support seen for Afghan refugees

Note: This story has been updated.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana National Guard Adjutant General Dale Lyles laid out more details of the upcoming Afghan refugees coming to Camp Atterbury at a press conference today.

The Department of Defense announced yesterday that Camp Atterbury would be one of the sites around the country to accept Afghan refugees who are special immigrant visa applicants. Initially, Atterbury will be made ready for 5,000 refugees, Gen. Lyles said, but that could be expanded to 10,000 with the space available, if additional housing was constructed.

Holcomb said that there were probably steps he could have taken to slow the process but ultimately he didn’t want to throw a “temper tantrum” and stand in the way of rescuing Afghans who aided American war efforts over the past 20 years.

Holcomb and Lyles explained that there will have been multiple layers of vetting involving agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to determine the status of the refugees both before and after their arrival here. Ultimately, if they are cleared by security and medically, they could be allowed access to local communities.

However there will be steps taken to provide for needs such as medical facilities at Atterbury so the local systems are not strained.

Holcomb said the overall response from Hoosiers has been positive, with many groups offering aid and assistance, and employers saying that they are anxious to have access to the possibility of new candidates to fill job vacancies.

Lyles said there has been no indication of any increased terrorism threats in the area related to the refugees arrival.

Camp Atterbury joins Fort Pickett, Marine Corps Base Quantico and Fort Lee in Va.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort McCoy, Wis.; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in N.J. to provide temporary housing and support for up to 50,000 Afghans.