Is Pentagon right to transport up to 22,000 Afghans to US?
- On Monday, August 18, 2021, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby announced the US military would add two more facilities in Fort Bliss, Texas and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin and expects to allow up to 22,000 Afghans “three to four weeks from now.”
- As the US exits Afghanistan, the Taliban has reportedly taken ‘four more provincial capitals,” giving them control of two thirds of the country. Critics worry the withdrawal “not only imperils US counterterrorism efforts, but that it also endangers Afghanistan’s fragile democracy.”
- On April 15, 2021, Biden announced the withdrawal of the remaining US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda.
- Although troops will be removed, Biden said the US will assist Afghan forces, diplomatic, and humanitarian work in the country.
- On Monday, May 3, 2021, Biden announced the revision of the annual refugee admission cap, changing the previous administration’s cap of 15,000 to 62,500. He stated, “the US Refugee Admissions Program embodies America’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable, and to stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge to the world.”
- The US Refugee Resettlement Program started in 1980 with a high of almost 240,000 admitted refugees. It dropped significantly over the following years and rose again to about 140,000 in the mid 90s. During Trump’s administration, the number of admissions dropped to an all time low of 15,000.
Afghanistan has become one of the great foreign policy disasters of our time. The Taliban has once again taken over the country, and Afghans are fleeing in anticipation of the future. When the Taliban rules, women are treated like animals, religious minorities are persecuted and killed, and ethnic minorities are massacred.
These events are tragic, and what’s even more tragic is how the Afghan government and its citizens, without US military support, let this takeover happen. Afghan forces turned control over to the Taliban as their president fled. If the people were not willing to fight for and defend their country from radical Islamists, we should not be willing to provide asylum in such high numbers.
While we have been a very open nation accepting massive numbers of immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees over the years, we are not the world’s sole immigration drop-box. Compassion can be misdirected when it causes us to neglect our people. We can only take so many immigrants before the numbers begin to affect our economy, and we currently accept around 20,000 refugees/year, and a 22,000 increase would overwhelm our systems. Other countries are refusing to take refugees. The UK is only taking 5,000 in this year, while Switzerland and Austria are refusing outright. We can take in Afghan refugees, but not a non-distinct 22,000 while there remain Afghan allies and Americans still needing rescue. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that some of these 22,000 who cannot be properly vetted for entry turn out to be security or health risks. We cannot lose the forest for the trees by neglecting the Americans at home for the potential Americans abroad.
The group of Afghans, potentially numbering 22,000, which the Pentagon is looking to bring to the United States to begin the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process, deserve this help for the great work they have done alongside our armed forces. By risking their lives to function as translators, guides, informants, and other duties critical to the success and survival of our troops, it’s now our turn to help these individuals begin new lives in America where they will be safe. If the Pentagon were to turn its back on these same people who were so instrumental during the occupation of Afghanistan, many would likely face retribution from the Taliban. Even though the warlords are currently saying it will offer amnesty to these people, it is hard to imagine them having any kind of prosperous future under their extremist rule.
Bringing these people to the United States poses no risk to the rest of the population and is our responsibility to do so after withdrawing so rapidly. They will be housed at various military bases throughout their visa processes, where they can be monitored, isolated for COVID, and detained if necessary. Further, these people will be vetted through the Special Immigrant Visa process, which will involve background checks and screening from the Department of Homeland Security.
America always benefits from an increase in immigrants, both economically and in terms of diversity. As immigrants enter the workforce, they add to productive capacity, raising GDP. Immigrants often move toward industries and areas where labor shortages are occurring. An influx of immigrant culture only adds to our own culinary, artistic, and entertainment options. Allowing them entry is bound to benefit this nation.