With everything that’s happened over the last two weeks in Afghanistan, including the death of at least 13 US soldiers at the hands of a suicide bomber, it’s easy to forget that the challenges don’t stop once the planes leave the ground. Right now, over 100,000 evacuees, almost all of them Afghans, have escaped the country. But who they all are and what to do with them are not questions easily answered.
The Biden administration’s plan is apparently to ship them all to the United States, leaving open the issue of just how we are vetting those who enter. To be sure, America’s compassion runs deep, but practical realities have to overcome emotion when it comes to importing masses of people from a terrorist hotbed. That there doesn’t appear to be much of a system in place is cause for concern.
Sen. Ted Cruz shares those concerns and toured Fort Bliss today, which will shortly be housing upwards of 10,000 Afghan refugees.
Touring the Dona Ana camp at Fort Bliss this morning, where Biden admin plans to house 10,000 Afghan refugees.
We should rescue Afghans who’ve assisted the US military, but they should go to a neutral & safe third country.
They should NOT come to US w/o a FULL security vetting. pic.twitter.com/X1rFJiNl74
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 27, 2021
Cruz is correct, and he’s speaking the truth about a topic that far too many are dancing around, perhaps not wanting to cause offense. And while I understand showing empathy for those fleeing Afghanistan, we can’t simply let our guard down and ignore the realities of the world we live in. Terrorists want to kill us, as illustrated by the ISIS-K attack two days ago. Anyone that’s let in must be vetted to the fullest extent possible.
Of course, Cruz’s comments triggered the right people. Here’s a Reuters reporter trying to play fact-checker.
The SIV applicants have gone through security vetting many times over what a usual visa holder would require and used to hold some of the highest level security clearances when they worked with the U.S. military…. https://t.co/83Ethmkg4g
— Idrees Ali (@idreesali114) August 27, 2021
The problem here is that nothing Ali says is true. In fact, the majority of refugees from Afghanistan are not SIVs. What that means is that they’ve gone through no vetting whatsoever and that it is completely in-bounds to demand that vetting takes place.
U.S. general: More than half of the Afghan refugees coming to the United States do not have special immigrant visas (SIVs)
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) August 27, 2021
Omri Ceren, Cruz’s national security advisor, corrected Ali’s multitude of errors.
Most evacuees aren’t SIVs (they’re family members, P1/P2s, at-risk groups, etc.) Also SIVs don’t get security clearances. Also maybe you’re thinking of LAAs, but those aren’t clearances and they’re lowest not highest levels.
Other than those details, you nailed it. https://t.co/B8XsubUMCY
— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) August 27, 2021
Again, I’m sympathetic to helping the Afghans who helped our military. If we made a promise to a translator, intel source, or otherwise, we should hold to that promise. Doing so is vital for our credibility going forward.
But we can’t just fly in planeloads of unvetted people, many of them fighting-age males, from one of the most dangerous parts of the world without a system in place that thoroughly establishes who’s qualified and who’s not. Right now, things are so hectic that it seems little is actually being done. Does anyone think the disaster that is our State Department, led by a mediocrity like Antony Blinken, has been able to vet tens of thousands of previously unknown refugees in just a few days?
That’s why Cruz’s assertion that we should be keeping these people in safe, third countries is so prudent. It’s the smartest way to deal with this. Further, if someone is not an SIV or an immediate family member of an SIV, they should be settled elsewhere. We need guardrails in place to ensure security.
I realize this is a contentious topic, but policy decisions have to be rational, not emotional. The Biden administration needs to be transparent about what’s going on — and no governor should be accepting people who have not been proven to be completely vetted and safe.