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Much of the outrage over President Joe Biden’s execution of withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan centered on concerns that allies and at-risk Afghans would be left in the country as the Taliban took over.
But with troops now gone from the country, a growing number of Republicans are voicing opposition to settling most of the evacuated Afghans in the United States.
They criticize the vetting process, warn against “open[ing] our borders to a Taliban-run nation,” and raise concerns about diseases that refugees may bring to the U.S.
The Biden administration said that it expects to resettle around 95,000 Afghans in the U.S., most of whom by the end of September. That includes those who have or have applied for Special Immigrant Visas, awarded to translators and others who worked with U.S. forces in Afghanistan, their family members, and others who have been let in on a temporary basis through “humanitarian parole” — a designation different from the technical classification of refugee, making them ineligible for a variety of resettlement services.
A proposal from the White House aims to change that, making those who come to the U.S. on humanitarian parole through September 2022 eligible for resettlement benefits — and potentially eligible effort green cards and a pathway to citizenship.
The Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in the House, distributed a memo this week from its chairman, Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, strongly opposing the measure.
It charged that the White House wants to “open our borders to a Taliban-run nation” and pledged that “conservatives will fight this continuing resolution every step of the way.”
The memo also argues that those coming to the U.S. are “unvetted.”
“It would be mind-bending to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by giving any unvetted Afghan national with ulterior motives who has been evacuated now or in the future unfettered access to the American homeland,” the memo read. “Just like during the withdrawal, the Biden administration has placed the safety and security of American lives in the hands of the Taliban. This time, however, the American lives that are at risk are right here at home.”
Those who were evacuated from Afghanistan have their fingerprints and names collected and undergo a background check. But some Republicans argue that the process is not rigorous enough and say that the current process gives Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas a broad authority to determine the screening procedures.
Some of the firmer critics explicitly name or hint at concerns about the cultural impact that the Afghans will have on the U.S.
Montana Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale on Thursday sent a long tweet thread on his opposition to 75 Afghans reportedly set to be settled in his state — a low number compared to thousands of an initial group of 37,000 that will head to other states.
“The mass evacuation of over 100,000 Afghan nationals in a matter of weeks has made proper vetting of these individuals near impossible,” Rosendale said. “We should try and settle these individuals in other countries around Afghanistan that share their values and culture, especially if we can not ensure proper vetting.”
“We were lied to,” Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert said in a tweet, noting that tens of thousands of the evacuees were not eligible for special immigrant visas. “These aren’t translators or allies, these are just ‘refugees’ and who knows how they’ve been vetted. This won’t end well for us one bit.”
Other Republicans point to a measles outbreak among Afghan evacuees that halted flights bringing them to the country.
“We must protect against those who may wish to do Americans harm and the potential public health threat that accompanies individuals relocating from a nation that has minimal numbers of COVID vaccinations administered and concerning numbers of other infectious diseases such as polio, mumps, rubella, and tuberculosis,” Republican Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, a physician, said in a statement Thursday.
These will be far from the first Afghans to be brought to America. From October 2001 to August 2021, the U.S. resettled about 97,000 Afghan visa recipients and refugees.
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Original Author: Emily Brooks