The Biden administration has informed private-sector refugee assistance organizations to prepare for the arrival of as many as 50,000 Afghan refugees, most of which won’t have a Special Immigration Visa (SIV), which is making some officials and lawmakers nervous.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the nine refugee organizations that have contracted with the U.S. government to process Afghan arrivals are responsible for helping them get housing, find jobs, and sign up for social services and are currently rushing to hire more staff, bring in additional volunteers, and raise funds to help with resettlement efforts.
The paper added that some leaders of those organizations have said that the Biden administration has not yet provided more specific information regarding the number of refugees they can expect to be streaming in from the war-torn country now that the United States has pulled out completely following its longest war.
On Sunday, leaders of the organizations reportedly took part in a call with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in which he promised that his agency would assist and cooperate. But, two sources who participated in the call told the WSJ that Mayorkas mostly just listened to concerns and issues that were raised.
In addition, the groups were not certain which Afghan refugees, or how many, are SIV holders, “which entitle them to a panoply of services, including months of healthcare and food assistance,” the WSJ reported, adding that the visa program was established for Afghanis who helped the U.S. military or worked along with military personnel during the war.
The problem, say critics, is one of vetting: SIV holders generally go through a process that can take up to two years, and it’s become obvious that many, if not most, of the tens of thousands of Afghans removed from their country have not undergone the process. What’s more, the WSJ reported, the administration has informed the organizations that the 50,000 refugees they will be handling won’t have visas.
“It appears the Biden administration is doubling down by bringing people who are unvetted into our country,” Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.), told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Monday evening.
Tiffany said he visited Fort McCoy, an Army installation in his state, that has received as many as 2,000 refugees, and it appeared as though most, if not all of them, were not SIV holders.
What’s more, he told Carlson, the refugees are being allowed off-base without supervision, with the permission of the base commanding general.
“They were all there on parole. The parole authority is granted to the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He can just wave people in,” Tiffany explained, accusing the administration of “circumventing the SIV process.”
GOP Rep warns Afghan refugees are not going through vetting process, able to leave US base unsupervised https://t.co/RTROSHSeUt pic.twitter.com/V2RNGFTEuS
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 31, 2021
Tiffany added that while “there are Afghans that should be able to come into our country…these people are not being vetted thoroughly.”
“They should go to a third, a safe third party country…or someplace like that and be vetted there. If they get through the vetting they should be able to come in,” he told Carlson.
Mark Hetfield, the president and CEO of HIAS, one of the non-profit organizations that are assisting in resettling Afghan refugees, told Newsweek last month that the Biden administration has “declared a whole bunch of different categories of people” will be eligible to enter the U.S. through the refugee program, though the process “tends to be very slow.”
But in a follow-up interview with the WSJ, Hetfield added: “We’re going to make it work, no matter how difficult, but I’d be lying to you if I said we aren’t concerned.”
“Eighty-four percent of the people that in the first quarter of this year that tried to get an SIV in Afghanistan, they were rejected,” Tiffany told Carlson. “Only 16 percent were able to get in. This has to be a thorough vetting process. The Biden administration is circumventing it.”
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