FIRST ON FOX: Senate Republicans are demanding answers from the Biden administration amid reports that hundreds of Afghan evacuees are walking off U.S. military bases without completing the resettlement process.
In a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a group of 16 Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, argue that the security vetting procedures to clear Afghan evacuees “remain unclear and incomplete, and, unless changed, are insufficient to preserve the safety of the American homeland.”
Many Afghan evacuees brought to U.S. military bases during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August were given the temporary status of “humanitarian parole” and then were expected to obtain resettlement services to complete their transition into the country. The senators’ letter demanding more information follows a report Saturday by Reuters that said at least 700 Afghan evacuees left U.S. bases without receiving those services.
While immigration experts told Reuters that those individuals are not breaking the law and that military officials have no legal authority to detain law-abiding Afghans, the senators worry some evacuees are slipping through alleged cracks in the vetting process. They’re asking the administration to temporarily halt relocating Afghan evacuees to the U.S. unless they are fully vetted Afghans holding Special Immigration Visas, and to pause resettlement of Afghans already paroled into the U.S. until the Department of Defense Inspector General completes a thorough review of the vetting process and briefs members of Congress.
“We are concerned the hastily developed process creates gaps in security and criminal vetting and risks our nation’s security,” the letter states. “The vetting process must ensure the security, medical and criminal screening of each Afghan seeking admittance into the United States.”
U.S. officials told Reuters that all of the Afghans leaving U.S. bases had already undergone security screening before arriving in the United States.
The DHS did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.