Sen. Cotton: Improper Vetting of Afghan Refugees Could Spark 'Domestic Disaster' Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) delivers remarks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining Texas's abortion law on Capitol Hill on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Tom Brenner-Pool/Getty)
By Jeffrey Rodack | Friday, 01 October 2021 11:45 AM
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said President Joe Biden has “sowed the seeds of a domestic disaster by bringing thousands of virtually unvetted Afghans” to the United States.
Cotton made his remarks in a column posted by Fox News on Friday.
“For two decades, thousands of Afghans fought loyally alongside American troops as translators and soldiers,” Cotton said. “We owe these Afghans a great debt for their service and ought to do what we can to help them escape to safety from the Taliban. By and large, these are not the people that the Biden administration brought to the United States.
“President Biden’s much-vaunted "airlift" evacuated fewer than half of approved Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders – Afghans who served alongside American troops. In fact, fewer than half of the 120,000 people that the United States evacuated from Afghanistan were American citizens, green-card holders or allies.
"The Democrats, desperate to paper over the Biden administration’s failure, recently stuffed a budget bill authority to provide indefinite housing and welfare benefits to these evacuees, even if they never qualify for refugee status or an SIV," he added. "Insultingly, these benefits would last much longer than the eight months of benefits given to SIV holders who actually served alongside American forces.”
Cotton said he was unsuccessful in his attempt to limit the benefits to just 18 months.
“Setting aside the question of cost, there is still the more basic question of trust,” he said. “There is no doubt that we can’t trust some of the people who made it on evacuation flights in the chaos, despite President Biden’s promise that we would rigorously vet every Afghan before letting them set foot on American soil."
He said it takes months to do a proper vetting.
“Vetting during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan took place over hours, days or weeks; in some cases, it didn’t happen at all,” Cotton said. ”This is an entirely inadequate and reckless way to screen people from a country with poor recordkeeping and a long history of extremism and terrorism.
“There is a very real risk that terrorists and other criminals are hiding in the crowd. We know for a fact that dozens of Afghans ‘refugees’ have been flagged as potential terrorist threats. Some made it onto U.S. soil before being discovered. It would be naïve to think that a slapdash vetting process was able to uncover all such threats.
“Just as concerning, several Afghans housed on military bases across the country have already been indicted for crimes, including crimes against children and against American service members.”
Meanwhile, Reuters reported than hundreds of Afghan evacuees are simply leaving U.S. military bases before receiving resettlement services. The number of "independent departures," exceeds 700 and could be higher, according to the wire service.