WASHINGTON — As President Biden final month defended his decision to finish the U.S. navy presence in Afghanistan, he delivered a promise as outdated because the warfare itself to the Afghans who had risked their lives to help American troops.

“Our message to these men and women is obvious: There’s a dwelling for you in the US, should you so select,” the president stated. “We are going to stand with you, simply as you stood with us.”

However his determination to not start a mass evacuation of Afghan interpreters, guides and their kinfolk earlier this 12 months has left thousands of people in limbo, stranded in a rustic now controlled by the Taliban after 20 years of warfare.

Even earlier than Mr. Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops, his administration rejected frantic calls from lawmakers and activists to evacuate Afghans, who now discover themselves in jeopardy.

Then this summer time, Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, implored Mr. Biden to carry off on evacuations till U.S. forces had been gone for good, fearing that the picture would undermine confidence in his authorities.

Mr. Biden as an alternative took steps to streamline a visa system plagued with backlogs, despite the fact that it was by no means meant for the mass switch of individuals in a brief period of time. And in the US, some officers had been expressing issues about potential political blowback over an inflow of refugees.

Taken collectively, the administration’s actions left Mr. Biden’s promise largely unfulfilled final weekend and led to searing scenes at the Kabul airport, the place Afghans clung to the perimeters of departing American planes. They usually raised questions on whether or not an administration that has stated it could prioritize human rights overseas has deserted the Afghans it depended upon most, dimming the US’ conventional world picture as a sanctuary for the persecuted.

The president on Wednesday defended the U.S. withdrawal and stated he didn’t see a approach to depart Afghanistan with out “chaos ensuing.” In an interview with ABC Information, he was requested whether or not the exit might have been dealt with higher.

“No, I don’t assume it might have been dealt with in a means that we’re going to return in hindsight and look — however the concept one way or the other, there’s a approach to have gotten out with out chaos ensuing, I don’t understand how that occurs,” Mr. Biden stated. “I don’t understand how that occurred.”

However critics stated the administration was squarely accountable.

“The failure to evacuate our allies rests solely within the palms of the Biden administration, who ignored veterans and advocates, even after they provided detailed plans on how evacuation to U.S. territory could possibly be managed,” stated Chris Purdy, the undertaking supervisor for the Veterans for American Beliefs program at Human Rights First.

Since 2002, the US has employed Afghans to help its troops, diplomats and help employees. Lots of these individuals had been threatened, attacked or pressured to flee their properties because of their work, prompting Congress in 2009 to ascertain a visa program particularly for individuals who had helped the U.S. authorities, in addition to their quick kinfolk.

This system is separate from the method sometimes utilized by these fleeing persecution or torture. About 18,000 persons are within the means of making use of for the visas, and people candidates have at the least 53,000 kinfolk who could be eligible to affix them. Regardless of a congressional mandate that the US course of the visas in 9 months, 1000’s have confronted lengthy delays for vetting.

The Biden administration has evacuated about 2,000 of the candidates to navy bases since mid-July, based on the State Division. It’s making ready to evacuate one other 800.

In a collection of conferences and calls since March, together with earlier than Mr. Biden introduced the U.S. withdrawal, lawmakers and resettlement officers warned the White Home and the State Division that the state of affairs required an pressing response — one that might not be addressed by the particular visa program, which took an excessive amount of time, based on resettlement and former authorities officers who spoke on the situation of anonymity to explain inner discussions.

The particular visa program requires candidates to clear intensive ranges of vetting and supply proof of their work — paperwork that may be exhausting to acquire for households who’ve been pressured to flee their properties. The Biden administration has blamed the earlier administration for exacerbating the delays by way of “excessive vetting” necessities.

The requires swift evacuations picked up even because the Biden administration deployed extra workers members in Washington and on the embassy in Kabul to handle the backlogs. One official stated the administration minimize by way of the paperwork by slashing in half processing delays that totaled a median of two years when Mr. Biden got here into workplace, lobbying Congress to develop the variety of visas and waiving necessities for medical examinations.

Even in the very best of circumstances, nonetheless, vetting refugees is enormously time-consuming. The prospect of 1000’s of Afghan refugees coming to the US — slightly than to different international locations — raised issues amongst some authorities officers, who argued that it could open up the White Home to political pushback, based on administration officers and different individuals aware of the matter.

Some lawmakers, reminiscent of Consultant Matt Rosendale, Republican of Montana, have expressed issues about expediting the vetting course of.

“Now we’re going to develop a process with which we are able to vet 1000’s of people and simply relocate them to the US?” he stated in an interview. “As soon as they’re settled right here, they’ll convey extra relations right here. One variety deed doesn’t make an ally.”

Abandoning Afghans — especially women and girls — might have vital political implications for Mr. Biden.

“The day they begin killing ladies in Afghanistan: That’s their political nightmare,” stated Michael A. McFaul, a professor of worldwide research at Stanford College and a former ambassador to Russia through the Obama administration. “These numbers that help withdrawal are extremely gentle. If ladies who took U.S.A.I.D. cash start to be arrested or killed, that help will diminish rapidly, and other people shall be outraged by the president.”

Refugee advocates say the Afghans’ sacrifices for the US ought to outweigh any potential political danger that comes with mass resettlement.

“It’s fairly wealthy, contemplating we trusted these individuals sufficient to place the lives of U.S. forces of their palms however to not convey them to U.S. soil,” stated Becca Heller, the chief director of the Worldwide Refugee Help Challenge, which is working with the State Division to help the Afghans.

Within the days because the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Mr. Biden has authorised an extra $500 million for “sudden pressing refugee and migration wants of refugees, victims of battle and different individuals in danger because of the state of affairs in Afghanistan.”

The administration additionally put out a name for volunteers all through the federal government to assist with processing the Afghan visas. An e mail from United States Citizenship and Immigration Companies described the chance as an “extraordinary initiative” and inspired any worker in any place to use.

The Pentagon’s prime two leaders stated on Wednesday that the US was dedicated to evacuating all People who need to depart Afghanistan, in addition to Afghans who helped the warfare effort and had been cleared to enter the US.

“We intend to evacuate those that have been supporting us for years, and we’re not going to depart them behind,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers, informed reporters. “And we are going to get out as many as attainable.”

At a information convention, nonetheless, neither Common Milley nor Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III would guarantee protected passage to the airport for People, Afghans and different foreigners exterior the perimeter.

“The forces that we have now are targeted on safety of the airfield,” Mr. Austin stated. “I don’t have the potential to exit and prolong operations at the moment into Kabul.”

The administration has insisted that its actions in current months had been calculated choices, not missteps.

It relied on intelligence displaying {that a} Taliban takeover was 18 months away, and officers have acknowledged that they underestimated the tempo of the Taliban advance when contemplating whether or not to hold out evacuations. Many Afghans had been near the top of the visa pipeline, leaving officers with an inaccurate sense that the administration had sufficient time to proceed to depend on the visa program.

The administration has additionally emphasised Mr. Ghani’s request over the summer time to carry off on evacuations till after the People had been out of Afghanistan.

“The Afghan authorities and its supporters, together with lots of the individuals now searching for to depart, made a passionate case that we must always not conduct a mass evacuation lest we set off a lack of confidence within the authorities,” Jake Sullivan, the nationwide safety adviser, stated at a White Home information briefing on Tuesday. “Now, our signaling help for the federal government clearly didn’t save the federal government, however this was a thought-about judgment.”

The administration was hesitant for months to maneuver the Afghans to navy bases in the US or its territories, reminiscent of Guam, preferring to maneuver them to different international locations as an alternative, based on administration officers and other people aware of White Home and State Division deliberations. Most of the evacuees would have solely non permanent safety whereas their visas had been processed. In the event that they had been denied visas, they would want to use for asylum or one other type of safety in the US — immigration applications that Republicans have seized on to assault Mr. Biden.

“They’re mainly in the US, and there’s probably not an efficient approach to say no in an efficient method,” stated Barbara L. Strack, a former chief of the refugee affairs division at Citizenship and Immigration Companies through the Bush and Obama administrations. “The federal government worries concerning the ‘no’ instances.”

One former contractor for the US who was relocated from Jalalabad strolled aimlessly exterior a housing advanced in jap Maryland on Monday afternoon, familiarizing himself together with his new environment.

The person, who requested to be recognized solely as Masoon out of concern for his security, stated he had made it from Kabul to Maryland after a 20-hour stopover on the Fort Lee navy base in Virginia. Though he arrived safely together with his spouse and 5 youngsters, his dad and mom and sisters remained in Jalalabad.

“I’m very glad right here,” Masoon stated, “however I’m not glad about my household.”

He added: “The Taliban is in Jalalabad, and what can I do about that state of affairs? It’s actually a harmful factor.”

Masoon stated he had misplaced all contact with them since he departed Afghanistan lower than two weeks in the past.

Eileen Sullivan, Jennifer Steinhauer, Michael D. Shear, Eric Schmitt, Catie Edmondson and Lara Jakes contributed reporting from Washington.