Politics

Trump Admin Officials: Caution against Resettling Afghans Who Did Not Directly Assist U.S.

People wait outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 17, 2021.
(Stringer/Reuters)

The Center for Renewing America released a statement Wednesday, signed by three former Trump officials, cautioning their successors against admitting Afghan refugees into the U.S. in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of the war-torn country.

The letter, obtained by RealClearNews’ Philip Wegmann, was co-signed by Russell Vought, former top official in Trump’s Office of Management and Budget, Ken Cuccinelli, former deputy chief in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, and Rachel Semmel, former spokeswoman in Trump’s Office of Management and Budget.

Imploring the Biden administration to prioritize American interests amid the Afghanistan fallout, the statement urged the Biden State Department not to exploit the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to grant amnesty to refugees who don’t technically qualify under the program’s criteria. The authors that the SIV program should be narrowly applied to Afghan collaborators and allies who directly served in U.S. military operations to expel the Taliban and fortify the Afghan government.

“The SIV program was established in 2009 as a targeted mechanism to provide Afghans who fought beside the U.S. military or served as translators with special visas allowing them to come to the United States. However, the SIV program must not be abused as a means to potentially resettle thousands of Afghans into the United States who did not provide America the help envisioned in the SIV program,” the document read.

It warned that most Afghan refugees “will not have directly aided the US or directly fought against the Taliban. And it is not in our national interest to accept refugees merely because they are refugees.”

The statement acknowledged the massive population displacement that has been triggered by the Taliban’s resurgence, with thousands of Afghans desperate to escape a tyrannical regime bound by sharia law.

Criticizing the governors who have already pledged to welcome refugees into their states, the authors implied that their resettlement could have a potentially negative impact on the security and social cohesion of American communities.

Referencing the crisis at the southern border with Mexico, the release cautioned against repeating the same mistakes with “the self-destructive open border policies” with regards to accepting Afghan asylum seekers. Admitting “tens of thousands of Afghans who we cannot properly vet,” the authors affirm, “may very well post a security risk to our communities, and may be unable to or unwilling to assimilate into our country.”

The best way to assist fleeing Afghan citizens, the letter suggests, is to facilitate “regional resettlement efforts” in collaboration with neighboring nations, rather than make the United States bear the burden.

Many lawmakers, Republicans included, have insisted that because the U.S. intervened militarily in Afghanistan’s civil war, occupying the nation for decades, only to conduct a haphazard and chaotic withdrawal, the U.S. owes it to the struggling, dislocated Afghans to provide them sanctuary.

Other Republicans, such as Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, have suggested that the U.S. should be selective in accepting Afghan refugees and should vet all asylum-seekers to weed out potential terrorists.

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