Senate Republicans on Thursday morning sent a letter to President Biden demanding that he provide accurate information on the number of U.S. citizens, green card holders, and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants who remain in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. troops. They also want to know his administration’s criteria in selecting who to evacuate from the embattled country.
The group of 26 Republicans led by Senator Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, demand in their letter that Biden provide “complete, unclassified” answers to the requested information by Tuesday, September 7, according to Politico.
“We write regarding the humanitarian crisis created by your withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, and the safety and well-being of our fellow countrymen and allies who you left behind,” the senators wrote in the letter.
“The signatories of this letter may have differing opinions about whether the United States should have maintained a military presence in Afghanistan, but we all agree that the arbitrary and poorly-planned method by which you withdrew from Afghanistan caused this crisis,” the first paragraph ends.
One of the biggest concerns raised by Republicans has to do with the vetting of those evacuated from Afghanistan, which could include Afghans with ties to terrorist organizations or violent criminals.
Regarding this, the senators’ question to Biden was, “Is the administration checking for potential criminal records and national-security concerns before admitting individuals to the United States?”
They further asked, “By what criteria did your administration select these individuals for the airlift while leaving American citizens, green-card holders, and SIV applicants and their families behind?”
The senators also stated that they want to know what steps his administration is taking to ensure that individuals are thoroughly vetted, and who is in charge of such vetting before they are admitted.
A day before the letter arrived at the White House, the Biden administration’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, gave assurance that “no one” enters the United States without first having ‘undergone a thorough screening and background check process,'” according to Fox News.
Psaki further stated that those individuals who have not yet passed the screening “have been sent to third countries,” such as Qatar and Germany, while that process is completed. “It doesn’t mean that that’s because there is a flag. It means they have not completed their paperwork. And we were working to save tens of thousands of people. Hence we evacuated them to these third countries,” she said.
Meanwhile, Biden said during his speech on Tuesday that his administration remained committed to evacuating U.S. citizens stranded in Afghanistan.
Since August 14, the United States evacuated more than 123,000 people from Afghanistan, including 6,000 U.S. citizens.
But, according to Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, earlier this week, there are still between 100 and 200 U.S. citizens living under Taliban terror who want to be evacuated, according to USA Today.
During the war in Afghanistan, more than 2,400 U.S. military personnel were killed, 13 of them in last week’s ISIS-K suicide bombing.