Biden taps former governor to head Afghan refugee resettlement

President Biden is tapping the former governor of his home state, Jack Markell, to serve temporarily as a White House point person on the resettlement of refugees from Afghanistan.

A White House official confirms that Markell will work across the federal government and with the private and non-profit sectors to ensure the thorough screening of would-be refugees and the resettlement of thousands of them across the U.S..

Earlier this week, CBS News first reported that the U.S. government was housing nearly 20,000 Afghan refugees at military installations in five states with plans to have at least 50,000 in the country by mid-September. 

The news of Markell’s appointment was first reported by The Washington Post.

He served as governor from 2009 to 2017. A longtime Biden associate, Markell was also nominated in late June to serve as ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, based in Paris. 

The Biden administration said it facilitated the airlift of approximately 124,000 people from Kabul in the past few weeks, as the Taliban assumed control of Afghanistan. The Biden administration insists individuals are thoroughly vetted before reaching U.S. soil.

Of the more than 100,000 Afghans who were hastily evacuated from Afghanistan, a “very small number” of Afghans prompted security concerns during evacuation, according to Keri Brady, the assistant director of the Custom and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center. 

The president has continued to defend his handling of the situation in Afghanistan. The number of Americans still in Afghanistan as well as the number of Afghan special immigrant visa applicants still in the country remains unclear.  

— CBS News’ Kathryn Watson contributed to this story.