Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson: Vetted Afghan Helpers Welcome to Come to State

Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson: Vetted Afghan Helpers Welcome to Come to State asa hutchinson smiles in hearing (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Monday, 23 August 2021 01:29 PM

Afghans who helped the United States in Afghanistan will be welcome to resettle in Arkansas, as the state will do its part to "support those that have supported us," Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday.

"Our priority is to get Americans out of that place of turmoil and chaos right now," the Republican governor said on Fox News' "Fox and Friends." "Our heart breaks not being able to get Americans out of there, but also we recognize for 20 years we have had Afghans that have supported the military mission, that have worked right beside our military personnel and we can't leave them behind."

He added that if the Afghans have been "properly vetted," then his state should welcome them, as it is " within the character of American history of our nation that we don't leave allies, those that have supported us so closely behind."

Part of that challenge will include public health, the governor added.

"We don't know whether Arkansas will be selected," Hutchinson said "We will wait and see, but I must say as governor that we would welcome and do our part to support those that have supported us."

There will be different levels of vetting, and those entering the country must be verified as having gotten special immigrant visas, and they would be confirmed as being able to legitimately be allowed to enter the country, he added.

"It's going to be challenging, no doubt about that, but then whenever they arrive they have to probably be further vetted and from a public health and a security standpoint," said Hutchinson. "We can't let these caveats stand in the way of being a welcoming nation and expressing our support."

He noted that Fort Chaffee, a military outpost in western Arkansas, received tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees when Saigon fell in 1975.

"Arkansas has a history of supporting those that have supported our military, said Hutchinson. "I spent 19 years in that community. It is a military-friendly community. We are very proud of that mission."

As a result of accepting the Vietnamese refugees, "we had over 4,000 Vietnamese settle in the Fort Smith area and they are an incredible important part of our community, and very proud of their assimilation into American life," said Hutchinson.

Meanwhile, immigrants who are crossing the border illegally are becoming a "burden on our system," said the governor.

"I have a responsibility for border security and what we see there today is an absolute travesty and a front to the protections that we are used to honoring border areas," said Hutchinson. "That is not only a security issue, but it's also a public health issue with COVID, and the delta variant still very much an issue."