National Security

Just Who Have We Brought Over From Afghanistan?

A member of Congress wants to know.

Image Credit: Youtube Screenshot

Republican Yvette Herrell represents New Mexico’s 2nd District in the House and she has seen up close the conditions at a USAF base where 5,000 Afghan refugees are living. She has questions.

Herrell: Last week I visited Holloman Air Force Base in the Second Congressional District of New Mexico, which I represent in Congress. The base now hosts an estimated 5,000 Afghan evacuees. Our military accomplished a herculean feat in running this humanitarian effort. I couldn’t be more proud of our amazing service members from Holloman and around the nation.

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In a matter of days, they constructed a small city that will be able to house over 5,000 people. Evacuees from Afghanistan are fed, clothed, provided medical services, given sleeping quarters conducive to the size of their family, and religious services are available. None of this charitable work could be done without the financial support of American taxpayers. Therefore, Americans are entitled to a better understanding of the refugee resettlement process happening in their communities.

Unfortunately, I left Holloman Air Force Base with more questions than answers. High ranking military brass and officials from Homeland Security and the State Department could not provide facts about the identities of those in the “Village.” They did not know (or would not say) how many were U.S. citizens, how many were Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants, or how many were merely people that made it onto our airplanes. Even more importantly, they could not say how many refugees had roles serving alongside U.S. forces.

It is puzzling that the evacuation effort was sold to the American people as a rescue of Afghan interpreters for the U.S. military, yet I was told that the “Village” at Holloman is forced to employ at least 50 outside interpreters to bridge the significant language gap. There were even fewer answers about the vetting process, which is essential to the safety and security of American citizens.

Government officials could not confirm whether they had access to criminal and security databases in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries, while still insisting that all refugees had gone through extensive vetting prior to being flown to the United States, contradictory to briefings I have received in Washington. They insisted that even the simplest answers were classified but did not offer to move to a classified setting at the base for further discussion.

I am thankful that we were able to save as many allies as we could from Afghanistan following a rushed evacuation of over 120,000 people to our shores. However, it is essential to ascertain who they are…

After touring Holloman, my concerns regarding the Biden administration’s vetting of Afghan nationals and their peaceful assimilation have only intensified. The people of New Mexico—and all Americans—should demand transparency in the wake of President Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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