EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Border Republicans are urging the Biden administration to make good on the timely evacuation of American citizens and their allies from Afghanistan, given an Aug. 31 deadline. They also want to make sure foreign refugees are properly vetted before being allowed to resettle in the United States.
This, as the Taliban today said they will not extend the evacuation deadline and that American troops must be out by the 31st.
“I am very concerned, number one, that we’re bringing all our Americans from Afghanistan and, number two, that we not put Americans in harm’s way, that we make certain the vetting processes (for Afghan refugees) are working,” said U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-New Mexico.
Afghan allies are coming to the United States under a Special Immigration Visa (SIV), which includes a background check and other requirements amid the existing chaos in the Afghan capital, their only exit point now.
Herrell, who represents Southern New Mexico, says she has more questions than answers regarding the arrival of Afghan citizens to a military facility in Doña Ana County. So far, 650 Afghan refugees have landed in El Paso, been taken to Fort Bliss and housed in a temporary facility just across the Texas-New Mexico state line.
“So far, what I have had is one conversation with the (Fort Bliss) general. They’re preparing for up to 10,000 (refugees). I don’t know if they will reach or exceed the number they were given,” Herrell said in an interview. “Are they being vetted 100% before they hit U.S. soil? Is the temporary housing for weeks or months? What will the transition to our communities and our society look like? There’s not answers to that so far.”
Herrell said she was in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday today seeking answers.
“We don’t know how much this is costing us and who’s going to shoulder the cost and if there will be medical attention,” Herrell said. “It’s very disturbing that we’re going to house up to 10,000 migrants without so much as a courtesy call or planning with (local) stakeholders and partners. We don’t have as many answers as we’d like to have; we’re anxious to get a briefing in D.C. to have answers for our constituency.”
U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, wants the Biden administration to expand the number of extraction points in Afghanistan so that all Americans and as many of their allies are evacuated soon.
“Afghanistan is the size of Texas and there’s only one exit point: Kabul. Imagine you’re in West Texas and you gotta make it to Austin nine hours away but there’s not roads, no trains, no planes – only Taliban checkpoints all the way,” Gonzales said. “We have to go where the Americans are, make sure they are returned safely as well as our Afghan partners. They’ve fought alongside for us for two decades. The Taliban are a brutal regime and continue to be a brutal regime.”
Gonzales, a Navy veteran who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, is urging Biden to keep U.S. troops “on the ground” until all Americans are evacuated.
“Time is literally running out and we have to use every single moment to make sure that we bring every American home safely,” he said. “Every minute that goes by, more and more people are in jeopardy.”