By CBS Baltimore Staff

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday said Maryland is “ready and willing” to accept more Afghan refugees as U.S. forces withdraw from the country and the Taliban retakes control.

The state is already expected to receive at least 180 refugees from Afghanistan through a program called “Operation Allies Refuge,” which provides Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghan and Iraqi nationals who helped U.S. operations as interpreters, security officers, drivers and in other roles.

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“Many of these Afghan citizens—our allies—bravely risked their lives to provide invaluable support for many years to our efforts as interpreters and support staff, and we have a moral obligation to help them,” said Governor Hogan. “Maryland receives more of these SIV’s than nearly any other state, and we stand ready and willing to receive more. It is the least we can do.”

Maryland ranks fourth in the nation for SIV arrivals, Hogan’s office said.

Hogan also criticized the country’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling the pull-out “rushed and irresponsible.”

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“The chaotic and heartbreaking scenes out of Afghanistan over the last several days—with innocent civilians running for their lives in fear of the Taliban—is the result of a rushed and irresponsible withdrawal,” he said.

CBS Baltimore Staff