“It’s a dream to be here. They just want to get out as soon as possible.” said one refugee.

The former interpreter for the U.S. Army counts himself among the lucky as an Afghan who managed to make it through frantic crowds outside the Kabul airport to board a military evacuation flight out of the country with little more than the clothes on his back.

Esrar Ahmad Saber now waits, along with 11,000 other Afghans, from the safety of a U.S. base in central New Jersey, while worrying about family members left behind and enduring a prolonged resettlement process, as the AP reports.

Saber has been at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in central New Jersey since Aug. 26 as has nearly everyone else at one of the three “villages” set up there for refugees. “They want to go to their new homes and start their new lives,” the 29-year-old said. “They are really excited about it. But the fact is, the process is very slow.”

The slow pace has become a defining characteristic of Operation Allies Welcome, the largest U.S. refugee resettlement effort in decades. Even as Afghans still arrive, thousands remain in limbo, anxious about their future as they fearfully follow the news of Taliban reprisals and economic collapse back in their homeland.

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