OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A new report alleges that the Joe Biden administration is actually charging American citizens to be evacuated from Afghanistan and the nation has fallen into the hands of the Taliban.
“Even though U.S. officials tell NatSec Daily and others that evacuation flights from Kabul will be free, people trying to catch a plane in the Afghan capital say differently. One person said State Department staff were seeking large payments — up to $2,000 — from American passengers and even more from non-U.S. citizens,” Politico said in a report on Thursday.
When the news organization reached out to a State Department spokesperson the report was not denied.
“U.S. law requires that evacuation assistance to private U.S. citizens or third-country nationals be provided ‘on a reimbursable basis to the maximum extent practicable.’ The situation is extremely fluid, and we are working to overcome obstacles as they arise,” they said.
“In other words, the Biden administration may request payments for evacuation flights,” Politico said.
“U.S. lawful permanent residents may submit a repatriation assistance request, and their request will be considered depending on availability,” the State Department said in its security alert issued on Saturday before it got to the possible cost of the flights.
“Repatriation flights are not free, and passengers will be required to sign a promissory loan agreement and may not be eligible to renew their U.S. passports until the loan is repaid. The cost may be $2,000 USD or more per person,” it said.
It adds to the controversial Afghanistan withdrawal of United States troops and citizens that has plagued the Biden administration in the media.
“Biden created this crisis, now he wants to charge Americans who are desperately fleeing the Taliban? That’s wrong,” Republican New York Rep. Claudia Tenney said on Twitter. “We should not be making Americans pay for their ride to safety. I’m drafting legislation now to PROHIBIT the US government from charging Americans, period.”
Biden created this crisis, now he wants to charge Americans who are desperately fleeing the Taliban? That’s wrong. We should not be making Americans pay for their ride to safety. I’m drafting legislation now to PROHIBIT the US government from charging Americans, period. https://t.co/urYL9GYIfh
— Congresswoman Tenney (@RepTenney) August 19, 2021
“Dudes. We’ve got 15,000 US citizens that need help now. “Free lunch” for Afghans while Americans are charged $2,000 to flee and are “on their own” in Kabul is immoral. Put down the spoon. Grab a rifle. Get Americans home and leave the Afghans to their home,” Rep. Paul Gosar said.
Dudes. We’ve got 15,000 US citizens that need help now. “Free lunch” for Afghans while Americans are charged $2,000 to flee and are “on their own” in Kabul is immoral. Put down the spoon. Grab a rifle. Get Americans home and leave the Afghans to their home. https://t.co/lVMzP83XaI
— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) August 20, 2021
Further detail from the State Department is explained on a page titled “What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis”
“In extreme situations, if there are no commercial transportation options (planes, trains, boats/ferries, etc.) available, and if we have consular officers at the embassy or consulate, and if the conditions permit, we may help U.S. citizens seeking to depart by working with the host government, other countries, and other U.S. government agencies to identify — and in some cases arrange — available transportation. Regardless of the method of transportation, or who provides it, U.S. citizens (and others who are eligible for U.S. government assistance) are generally responsible for reimbursing the government for the cost of their travel,” it said.
And on the question, “will the U.S. government pay for my evacuation if it is needed?” the State Department answers.
“No. U.S. law requires that the assisted evacuation of private U.S. citizens or third-country nationals be provided “on a reimbursable basis to the maximum extent practicable.” However, we do understand that you may not be able to access your own money during a crisis. For evacuation transportation that we arrange to transport you out of a crisis location, you do not have to pay before you board. To board these transports, you will need to complete and sign a form promising to repay the U.S. government. The amount billed to evacuees is based on the cost of a full fare economy flight, or comparable alternate transportation, to the designated destination(s) that would have been charged immediately prior to the events giving rise to the evacuation. Because different evacuation transports may go to different destinations, the cost of one transport may be different than another. We encourage people to leave on the first transport they are able and eligible to board,” it said.
“As mentioned above, an evacuation is almost always to a nearby location away from the crisis, which is very rare to the United States. You are also responsible for the costs you may incur in the destination, including hotel, food, clothing, medication, and other necessities,” the State Department said.
“Emergency financial assistance in the form of a loan may be available to U.S. citizens who are unable to pay for their onward travel to the United States,” it said.