LA CROSSE, Wisc. (WLAX) – Wisconsin will play a pivotal role in the international rescue movement from Afghanistan with thousands of refugees coming to Fort McCoy located outside of La Crosse.
The base is ready to welcome a few thousand refugees; however, they are preparing for even more.
“Right now we think we can reach 22,000 [refugees] in a relatively short time here over the next few days and weeks, ”Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Fort McCoy will be one of three bases housing the refugees.
Lawmakers have said the United States has a duty to try to protect those who aided US forces in Afghanistan.
“We have a commitment to those who have truly helped the United States government over our 20 years in Afghanistan,” said Congressman Bryan Steil. “We need to make sure that these people are given free safety and passage out of Afghanistan. “
Steil said he was also concerned about the Americans trapped in Afghanistan.
“Someone from Special Forces contacted my office,” Steil said. “He is aware of 40 people trapped in Kabul with sensitive information.
Refugees entering Wisconsin will be tested for COVID-19; however, at this time, vaccinations will not be required.
In addition to humanitarian efforts, housing refugees in Fort Wisconsin could have an economic impact on the region.
“What’s going on at Fort McCoy, behind the fence you have a town, basically; a city that appears in a few days, appears just in a few days; and people who work 24 hours a day, 24 hours a day in this city, ”said Monroe County historian Jarrod Roll.
Roll explained that this is what happened in 1980 when Cuban refugees were brought to Fort McCoy. The influx of people actually created a temporary boost for the struggling economy at the time.
“When the refugees arrived at Fort McCoy, there was an instantaneous demand for workers there, from the cleaning crew to the cooks,” Roll said.
Roll expects this to happen again in western Wisconsin.