As news of Afghan evacuees walking out of US military bases before completion of the resettlement processes started trickling in, the Biden administration found itself in a spot. Senate Republicans quickly latched on to the issue and have begun demanding answers from the government.
Pointing out that the security vetting procedures to clear Afghan evacuees are incomplete, 16 Senate Republicans, led by Senator Joni Ernst, of Iowa, shot off queries to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, stating that the incomplete procedure is insufficient to preserve the safety of the American homeland.
During the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, refugees were brought to US military bases and provided with temporary “humanitarian parole” until they were given resettlement services to complete their transition into the country. These refugees numbering at least 700, were reported as having walked out of the US military bases without completing the formalities.
The senators expressed concern over the episode, saying evacuees have been slipping ‘through alleged cracks in the vetting process.
Calling upon the US administration to temporarily put a stop to the relocation process of the Afghan evacuees until they are fully vetted Afghans holding Special Immigration Visas, the senators said that the resettlement of Afghans already paroled into the US should be paused till the Department of Defense Inspector General completes a thorough review of the process and apprises the Congress in this regard.
Meanwhile, there are also reports of immigration experts rubbishing talk of the refuges violating the law. Pointing out that the Afghan nationals were not breaking the law, immigration experts said that military officials have no legal authority to detain ‘law-abiding Afghans.’
The whole episode could prove to be a headache for the Biden administration, with critics expressing concern over the breach in national security.