Most Afghan evacuees not screened before entering United States, GOP Senate note says

Almost all of the roughly 82,000 Afghans who were evacuated from Kabul to the United States in August were not properly screened before entering the country, according to a GOP Senate memo.

The current administration has failed to verify information provided by tens of thousands of Afghans in face-to-face interviews, choosing instead to rely solely on criminal and terrorist databases to sow potential threats – or ” screenings ”- according to the Congress note, according to the Washington Examiner.

The note – written by Senate Republicans in October – summarizes interviews with federal officials from the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State and Justice who oversaw what they described as a process selection and reckless control at home and on military bases, the Examiner reported.

According to Senator Rob Portman, only 700 of the 82,000 people admitted to the United States had special immigrant visas (SIV) in early October.

About 75 percent of those evacuated from Afghanistan were not US citizens, holding a green card, special immigrant visa for Afghanistan [SIV] visa holders or applicants, sources familiar with the memo told the Washington Examiner.

As of early October, only 700 of the 82,000 admitted to the United States held SIVs – which grant permanent residence for helping the US government during its occupation, Republican Rob Portman of Ohio said in a Nov. 4 speech, despite claims by the Biden administration that those flown in from Kabul were SIV holders and allies.

More than 40 percent of the 82,000 were considered eligible “allies” to apply for the visa but had not yet applied, officials told The Examiner.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas backed President Biden's demand for
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas backed President Biden’s demand for “security checks” for all evacuees to the United States.
Rod Lamkey – CNP / MEGA

According to DHS officials, of the 82,000 US arrivals, 4,920 were US citizens, 3,280 were lawful permanent residents and the remaining 73,800, or 90 percent, were Afghan nationals. DHS did not specify how many of the 73,800 were SIV or ineligible applicants for the visa, The Examiner reported.

In August, Biden said all those evacuated to the United States would undergo “security checks” at military bases before entering the United States, a statement supported by the State Department and later by the United States. DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“Planes taking off from Kabul do not fly directly to the United States. They land at US military bases and transit centers around the world, ”Biden said. said Aug 22. “On those sites where they land, we do a thorough review – security checks for anyone who is not a US citizen or lawful permanent resident. “

Evacuees from Kabul, Afghanistan wait to board a bus at Washington Dulles International Airport on September 2, 2021.
Evacuees from Kabul, Afghanistan wait to board a bus at Washington Dulles International Airport on September 2, 2021.

According to the memo, the Biden administration ordered military and federal agencies to streamline the process by subjecting evacuees to basic “screenings” with the more extensive additional “control” protocols established after the 9/11 attacks.

Filtering refers to the initial information refugees provide to law enforcement through personal statements, government documents, and biometric data such as fingerprints. Verification usually comes next, when a government official interviews the person to confirm that they are who they say they are.

Verification interviews “were only conducted for evacuees who had derogatory information associated with their biometrics or phone records,” the note said.

According to the Examiner, DHS and the White House disagreed over its definition of “control.” DHS did not provide the document with its definition.

An aerial view of the village of Doña Ana in Fort Bliss New Mexico, the US military base where Afghans airlifted out of Afghanistan were screened.
An aerial view of the village of Doña Ana in Fort Bliss New Mexico, the US military base where Afghans airlifted out of Afghanistan were screened.

“As with any population entering the United States, DHS, in coordination with interagency monitoring partners, is taking several steps to ensure that those seeking to enter do not pose a risk to national security or public safety.” , wrote a DHS spokesperson in an email at the point of sale. . “The rigorous, multi-layered screening and verification process involves biometric and biographical screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals from DHS and DOD, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (FBI), the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and other partners in the intelligence community. This process includes examining the fingerprints, photos and biographical data of each Afghan before they are allowed to travel to the United States.

According to the memo, “Afghans without any identification or records were allowed to travel to the United States as long as their fingerprints or other biometric data was not already in a United States government database and connected to derogatory information ( for example, a known terrorist, terrorist affiliate, or criminal). Federal officials have indicated that few Afghans know their birthdays, resulting in a number of evacuees being born on January 1.

US officials are already aware of 10 cases of Afghans who were allowed entry and who should not have been allowed had they been screened. In September, 2 evacuees have been invoiced with crimes, including a 20-year-old man who sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl.

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