By Veronika Kyrylenko
The Biden administration on Tuesday called on Congress to approve emergency funding for disaster relief packaged together with Afghan refugee resettlement as part of a short-term spending bill, or a short-term continued resolution (CR), which would cost $30 billion.
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Shalanda Young wrote a letter to Congress asking to approve a short-term CR that would help to “address two […] urgent needs: responding to recent and ongoing natural disasters, and meeting our commitments to our Afghan allies and partners.”
The first “urgent need” includes the aftermath of the disasters from the last 18 months, such as Hurricanes Laura and Delta, as well as more recent needs stemming from ongoing wildfires and Hurricane Ida. To address these needs, the OMB asks the lawmakers to allocate “over $14 billion” for natural disasters before Hurricane Ida, and additional “at least $10 billion” to repair from the damages left in Ida’s immediate wake. The money would be spent on highway repairs and transit agencies, small-business disaster loans, block grants for housing and infrastructure development, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s fund for major disasters, per the letter.
The very next paragraph of Young’s message is dedicated to “our commitments to [tens of thousands of] Afghan allies and partners,” the resettling of whom would cost taxpayers some $6.4 billion. The OMB specified the lion’s share of the requested funds would be appropriated by the Defense and State departments to support processing sites overseas and in the United States, as well as transportation between processing sites.
While Young states that all Afghan evacuees undergo a strict biometric and biographic security screening before they are allowed into America, and also receive “extensive COVID-19 and other public health precautions,” in reality, the reports on the refugees pouring into the United States suggest the security protocols presumably applied to them have room for improvement.
As The New American recently reported, as of August 28, 95,000 Afghans had been evacuated from Kabul, and a massive number of them had no proof of identification whatsoever. Moreover, many of them were associated with various Islamist terrorist groups. Per the report: “At least 100 of these refugees are on terror watch lists, and one evacuated man apparently works directly for the brutal Islamic State, infamous for burning people alive and drowning them in cages.”
Defense One reported that, per the Department of Defense, “up to 100 of the 7,000 Afghans evacuated as prospective recipients of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) seeking permanent resettlement in the U.S. have been ‘flagged’ as potential matches to intelligence agency watch lists.”
In addition to that, NBC News stated that six days prior to the deadline for Americans to leave Afghanistan, on August 25, no biometric screening was available at the Hamid Karzai International Airport. According to the outlet, the U.S. mission team disclosed at least five cases of Afghans who presented U.S. passports that didn’t belong to them.
Around the same period of time, as the frantic evacuation of Afghans was underway, it turned out the situation may foster child trafficking and abuse. Purportedly, some of the older refugees “were admitted together with young girls they claimed as ‘brides’ or otherwise sexually abused,” per the Associated Press report. The outlet adds that according to the internal documents of the State Department, it has sought “urgent guidance” from other agencies after purported child brides were brought to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. There was also a report, per the AP, stating that Afghan girls at a transit site in Abu Dhabi have alleged they have been raped by older men they were forced to marry in order to escape Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.
Despite the poor security screening — if any — the Pentagon announced on August 27 that it will be placing tens of thousands of refugees in U.S. domestic military bases. Reportedly, 65,000 more Afghans are expected to make it to America in September, and 30,000 more within 12 months — that’s on top of the official 62,500 refugee admission cap set for 2021.
Tying hurricane-relief funding to the settlement of Afghan refugees seemed like an extremely unfair venture to many.
Former President Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Miller called on Congress to push for Biden to separate the “refugee slush fund” from the rest of what’s being proposed. He wrote: “It’s scandalous that Biden is linking disaster relief for Americans with a slush fund to resettle random unvetted, unscreened, unverified and unauthorized Afghan migrants across USA. Biden is holding relief for American storm victims hostage to his radical migration agenda.” Miller added that $6.4 billion that OMB needs for the refugees is “just the beginning,” since the long-term housing, education, healthcare, and welfare costs will account for “many billions more.”
On Wednesday, House Republicans pressured President Joe Biden to answer questions about the vetting process of Afghans who have been allowed entry to the United States, citing security concerns.
Former President Donald Trump, similarly, stated: “In addition to the southern border, with millions of unvetted people pouring in, we now have tens of thousands of totally unvetted Afghans, who many say are not the ones that should have come in. How many terrorists are among them?”
The answer is — nobody knows. But we’ll be paying for their accommodations.