Oversight Republicans urge DHS OIG to investigate Afghan refugee vetting, resettlement
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FIRST ON FOX: Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are requesting that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigate the Biden administration’s resettlement of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees into the United States, amid concerns about vetting procedures and who is eligible for a U.S. citizenship pathway.
In a letter to Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, Reps. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., and James Comer, R-Ky., express concern about the processes surrounding the evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghans into the U.S. in the wake of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.
Letter to DHS OIG on Afghan vetting by Fox News on Scribd
They urge Cuffari to “investigate [DHS’s] actions and decisions related to Operation Allies Welcome and the tens of thousands of Afghans being resettled into the U.S.”
While Republicans have largely been supportive of bringing in those who helped directly in the U.S. mission, they have expressed concern that many of those being brought in those includes significant numbers who are not directly connected, but are instead deemed “at risk” or “vulnerable.”
“Most of the Afghans the Biden administration brought to the United States fall within a nebulous category of ‘vulnerable Afghans’ who have simply been paroled into the country for an initial period of two years,” the lawmakers wrote.
“They fall outside all the recognized lawful status categories: Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) refugee resettlement, or even through family based immigration benefits,” they write. “Parole is an important statutory authority to be used only on a case by case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”
The objections have been heightened by the passage of a continuing resolution that includes $6.3 billion in funding for Afghan resettlement, and puts those brought into the country — which the White House has estimated at 95,000 over the next year — on a path to permanent residence and citizenship, in addition to eligibility for public assistance.
“The administration made this request after the evacuation — further evidence that the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan was not well planned or executed,” the lawmakers say of the request for a citizenship pathway.
Meanwhile, Republicans have raised fears about the vetting process, doubting how well they can be screened without the necessary databases within Afghanistan. The administration has pushed back, saying there are multiple databases and the screening process is secure.
“We have a multi-layered, multi-agency screening and vetting process to make sure that doesn’t happen,” DHS Secretary Mayorkas said last month, referring to a potential terrorist threat. “We screen and vet individuals before they board planes to travel to the United States and that screening and vetting process is an ongoing one and multi-layered.”
The Oversight Republicans request the numbers being resettled, including how many are SIV holders, applicants, P1 or P2 refugees or classed as “vulnerable” Afghans and parolees — as well as the definition for “vulnerable” Afghans.
They also ask whether parole is granted before or after screening procedures take place, and if they are adequate. It also asks about the access DHS has to criminal background and security databases covering Afghanistan, as well as the plan to remove those who are found to be a security threat.
The requests come a day after the Biden administration announced that it has resumed flights into the U.S., after they were suspended due to a measles outbreak.
Additionally, there have been a number of accusations of criminal activity by some Afghans on military bases. Herrell was scheduled to tour the Fort Bliss base on Wednesday where a soldier said she was attacked by a group of refugees on the base.
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