A coming effort to resettle hundreds of Afghan refugees throughout the United States has already begun to divide Republicans, who nonetheless stay steadfastly unified of their criticism of the evacuation effort that made the resettlement potential.
Some GOP lawmakers have raised considerations about how a lot the Biden administration will vet the Afghans it plans to carry to the U.S. for a nearly unprecedented resettlement effort — whereas others have embraced the concept of welcoming Afghans who assisted U.S. forces on the grounds that failing to take action would dissuade civilians in different international locations from serving to the American navy sooner or later.
The rift is more likely to exacerbate present tensions inside the occasion over learn how to method immigration coverage extra broadly.
“It is a national security issue, and when I see that, previously, there was a 14-step process that had been established that took anywhere from 18 to 24 months in order to clear these individuals, I don’t see how in the world we can take well over 100,000 people now, and all of a sudden wave a magic wand and condense that vetting period and process into a couple of weeks’ time,” Rep. Matt Rosendale, a Montana Republican, informed the Washington Examiner.
“Even through that vetting process, you need to keep in mind that they are not screening these people for ideological flags,” Rosendale added.
U.S. and coalition forces evacuated greater than 110,000 folks from Kabul, the “very significant majority” of whom are Afghans, Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned on Sunday.
Blinken mentioned the variety of Afghan refugees looking for a Special Immigrant Visa to come back to the U.S. is “very, very fluid,” though many have already began arriving at navy installations throughout the nation.
The Special Immigrant Visa program for Afghans usually requires 14 steps and entails doc requests, an in-person interview, and a medical examination. While the method can usually take greater than a yr, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas final week invoked what’s generally known as parole authority to permit Afghans with pending functions to come back to the U.S. earlier than they’re totally screened.
President Joe Biden tapped the Department of Homeland Security on Sunday to coordinate the resettlement effort.
The surge of Afghans seeking to receive a Special Immigrant Visa is more likely to put huge pressure on a program that was designed to proceed slowly.
From July to September of final yr, for instance, the State Department issued simply 283 of the visas to Afghans.
Now, tens of hundreds of Afghans are flooding the system with functions and can doubtless be resettled within the U.S. whereas they await their approval or denial.
Beyond considerations about vetting, some Republicans have raised considerations about how giant numbers of Afghan refugees will assimilate into the communities the place they’re positioned.
“It is a actuality that many of those people have a really totally different viewpoint about not solely what it means to be an American, however dignity for girls and youngsters and life,” Russ Vought, president of the Center for Renewing America and former Trump Cabinet member, informed the Washington Examiner.
Vought cited Pew Research Center knowledge from 2017 that confirmed 39% of Afghan Muslims mentioned suicide bombings are “at least sometimes justified” and that an amazing majority, 99%, assist implementing Sharia, a strict Islamic authorized code.
Some GOP lawmakers and aides have expressed concern concerning the impact giant numbers of Afghan refugees might have on their states, in addition to the pressure they may place on advantages packages.
But others have joined Democratic leaders in embracing the concept of resettling Afghan refugees on their dwelling turf.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has signaled he’s open to welcoming Afghans to his state — a place that drew the ire of a fellow Georgia Republican, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who questioned how a lot the resettlement would price taxpayers and whether or not the refugees would “bring chain migration.”
South Carolina Republican Gov. Henry McMaster mentioned earlier this month that “it is our duty” to simply accept the refugees, who he mentioned can be welcome in his state.
Many Afghan refugees are at the moment destined for Fort Bliss in Texas. Sen. John Cornyn mentioned earlier this month that as much as 10,000 Afghans might arrive on the El Paso base, which is already housing hundreds of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border.
A congressional aide informed the Washington Examiner not less than seven navy bases are at the moment set to host refugees, together with three in Virginia, the place they may wait whereas DHS processes them for resettlement elsewhere within the U.S.
Refugees are anticipated to be resettled all through the nation, and help teams are bracing for the duty of serving to Afghan households get arrange in unfamiliar communities.
Republicans in Congress are more likely to take motion associated to the resettlement course of as Afghans start transferring off of bases and into cities.
Rosendale mentioned he’s engaged on laws “to make sure that that vetting process is conducted properly” and that no shortcuts are taken to approve Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans extra rapidly than ordinary.
He and different Republicans have advocated for the Afghan refugees that the U.S. evacuated to be resettled primarily in neighboring international locations moderately than be delivered to the U.S.
Vought mentioned lawmakers might carry up the problem throughout the fight on Capitol Hill over funding the federal government.
“They can use the upcoming funding process, through the appropriations, to use that as a leverage point to put in a rider that either turns off funding for refugee resettlement that’s not regionally based without clear vetting standards,” Vought mentioned, including that lawmakers might additionally “change the ability of DHS to use its parole authority.”
Vought additionally mentioned Congress might present “more ability for governors to have a say as to whether they want refugee resettlement” of their states — a call he says the federal authorities presently has broad powers to make.
Despite the political controversy over how and whether or not to resettle Afghan refugees within the U.S., the concept of welcoming them is broadly fashionable with the general public.
A CBS/YouGov ballot carried out earlier this month discovered 81% of individuals supported bringing evacuated Afghans to the U.S. — together with 76% of Republicans.
Many persons are lining as much as assist the refugees as properly.
Merritt Groeschel, founder and government director of Solutions in Hometown Communities, a Maryland-based group that helps with refugee resettlement, mentioned refugee teams equivalent to hers have been flooded with donations and curiosity in helping. She mentioned some refugee teams have obtained so many donations of meals, furnishings, and different gadgets that they’re working out of cupboard space.
“Without a doubt, I would say there’s been an outpouring of support, like amazing support, from the community,” Groeschel informed the Washington Examiner. “Many people want to volunteer. People are donating things and money to organizations that are helping refugees.”
Groeschel mentioned that as a result of inflow of fabric donations and volunteers to teams equivalent to hers, individuals who need to assist could also be best donating cash that the organizations can use to assist refugees navigate the visa approval course of.