“Project Dynamo” has flown hundreds of Americans out of Afghanistan since the non-government-sanctioned airlift began after the Biden administration’s incompetence left thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan allies stranded in Afghanistan at the end of August.
Tuesday’s flight with more than 100 citizens and green card holders, as well as 56 children, was supposed to be routine for the civilian organization. Project Dynamo and the Human First Coalition had gotten the necessary clearances from the state department and the passengers had all been screened and vaxxed.
After the plane took off from Kabul, the groups issued a press release thanking the “U.S. State Department and the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their cooperation in challenging circumstances to secure the safe return of these U.S. citizens, U.S. Legal Permanent Residents, and Afghan allies.”
But some pencil-necked bureaucrat decided to throw his weight around and keep the citizens, green card holders, and special immigrant visa (SIV) holders from entering the U.S. This, after giving the flight permission to land twice.
Initially, according to reports, the flight was cleared to land in New York City but the destination was later changed to Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., before being disallowed altogether.
Bryan Stern, himself a veteran and the organizer of the evacuation flight, said that the flight took off from the international airport in Kabul but then was held on the tarmac in Abu Dhabi for roughly 14 hours with 117 people on board, including 59 children.
“Right now we have 59 children sleeping on airport chairs and cold airport floors – not the warm bed with a hot meal that we’d arranged for all of them stateside – because the US Government denied our flight clearance into ALL US ports of entry,” said Project Dynamo, which is in charge of the evacuation flight, according to a post on the organization’s Instagram page.
“They escaped the regime they were running from only to have the government they were running HOME TO, turn them away. This cannot be what America does to Americans,” the post adds.
Obviously, Mr. Stern underestimates the desire of the Biden administration to maintain total control of the evacuation — even at the expense of making 56 children suffer the indignities of being forced to spend the night sleeping at an airport.
In a Reuters interview, Stern said the initial plan was to transfer all of the passengers to an Ethiopian Airlines flight charted to fly into JFK International in New york. But U.S. Customs and Border Protection then switched clearance to Dulles before barring the flight altogether.
Reuters said that a Biden administration official claimed the reason for the delay is that it takes time to confirm manifests of charter flights before they are permitted to land in the U.S., but that seems arbitrary given that DHS had cleared the flight to land twice before banning it altogether. What’s more, the flight is filled with American citizens as well as Afghans who have already been cleared to the point of being given green cards and SIVs.
The problem is entirely the making of the bureaucracy. Someone at CPB suddenly woke up and realized, “Hey! We’re in charge of vetting these people before they come into the U.S., and nobody told us they were coming.” The agency promptly placed a hold on the flight despite DHS approving it and the passengers already having been vetted to receive SIVs and green cards.
It shouldn’t be this hard. But it is.