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Press Release Published: Feb 25, 2022

Comer, Herrell, Oversight Republicans Renew Concerns About Lax Vetting of Afghan Evacuees

Express concerns over the Biden Administration’s reported plans to provide assistance and lawful status to Afghans possibly linked to terrorist organizations.

WASHINGTON — Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), Representative Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.), and Committee Republicans renewed their concerns about the lax vetting and resettling of potentially ineligible Afghans in the United States, including individuals with terrorist ties. In a new letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the lawmakers renew their August 25, 2021 request for information and seek an accounting of all Afghans being resettled in the United States, where they are being resettled, and what the Biden Administration’s plans are for ensuring they are safely integrated into American communities.

“We are requesting new information from the Department of Homeland Security related to the tens of thousands of Afghans resettled in the United States – Afghans who may not be eligible for such benefits… Recent troubling reports state that Afghans with serious derogatory information – including terrorist ties – were permitted to enter the United States due to lax vetting… These Afghans have been brought to the United States and resettled in communities across the country,” wrote the lawmakers.

Since August 2021, the Biden Administration has brought 76,000 Afghan evacuees to the United States and has begun to resettle them in communities across the country. Although many relocated Afghans are potentially eligible for lawful status in the United States, nearly 3 in 5 are only classified as vulnerable and will simply be paroled into the country in two-year increments. Humanitarian parolees are generally not eligible for U.S. refugee resettlement benefits and the Biden Administration’s desire to provide them an as-of-now unavailable path to citizenship is further evidence of an ill-conceived, chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal.     

“We are particularly concerned that terrorists or other bad actors may seek to take advantage of our goodwill, exploiting any weakness in border security and vetting of foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States. Unfortunately, these are not theoretical concerns. In fact, the Department of Defense Inspector General has already conducted a preliminary ‘Evaluation of the Screening of Displaced Persons from Afghanistan,’ finding that Afghan evacuees ‘were not vetted by the National Counter-Terrorism Center using all DOD data prior to arriving…’ It is the Committee’s responsibility to conduct oversight of DHS’ ongoing efforts to screen tens of thousands of Afghan nationals who may be resettled in the United States, as well as the Administration’s plans for ensuring their safe integration into American communities,” continued the lawmakers.

The letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas can be found here.