News & Politics

As Trump Warns of Terrorism From Afghan Refugees, Some in GOP Look for Ways to Welcome Them

AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan

Donald Trump is not wrong in warning about the possibility that some of the Afghan refugees could be ISIS or Taliban plants who would commit acts of terror on U.S. soil. Those who dismiss the possibility are whistling past the graveyard or deluding themselves.

And there is a real problem trying to sufficiently vet these refugees to prevent a terror attack from happening.

The fact is, many Americans are questioning whether bringing thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — of refugees from Afghanistan to America is worth the risk. One GOP pollster, Neil Newhouse, summed it up, saying  “There’s just a sense that we are less safe as a country as a result of this.”

“How many terrorists will Joe Biden bring to America?” Trump asked on Thursday. A GOP congressman, Rep. Matt Rosendale from Montana, tweeted after the airport massacre: “How many American military personnel have to die to evacuate unvetted refugees? Get American citizens out and bring our troops home.”

That’s not a universal sentiment in the Republican Party.

Associated Press:

“I think these false narratives that these are a bunch of terrorists are just — they’re completely baseless in reality,” said Olivia Troye, a former White House homeland security adviser who currently serves as director of the Republican Accountability Project. “There’s no basis for this at all in terms of the intelligence and national security world.”

You can vet the Republican Accountability Project and its priorities here.

There is a rudimentary vetting system at the airport in Kabul. But despite Biden’s assurances that the refugees are being thoroughly investigated, we have to recall that when the refugee crisis hit in 2014-15, it was taking eight months to approve entry to the U.S for Syrian refugees.

Related: Okla. Woman Took Credit for Rescuing the Afghan Girls Robotics Team—and Many in the Media Fell for Her Lies

Senator Ted Cruz has a logical alternative.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Friday toured the Doña Ana Range complex at Fort Bliss, where many refugees will be housed, and later tweeted the U.S. “should rescue Afghans who’ve assisted the US military, but they should go to a neutral & safe third country.”

“They should NOT come to US w/o a FULL security vetting,” he said.

Kentucky Rep. James Comer, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, wants a briefing from the White House on what they’re doing to prevent terrorists from entering the country along with deserving Afghans who assisted U.S. forces.

“In the chaotic situation left in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, we are particularly concerned that terrorists and others who wish to harm the United States may seek to infiltrate the country disguised as those who provided assistance to coalition forces in Afghanistan,” he wrote in letters to the secretaries of state and homeland security.

There are Republican members of Congress doing what they can to help the at-risk Afghans and welcoming them to their states. They reject the “terrorist” label for the refugees.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., whose office has been working around the clock to rescue the “countless” Afghans he says deserve evacuation, chastised those in his party invoking “terrorist” rhetoric.

“I would say that they need to do their homework,” he said. “When you talk to the people that we’ve spoken with, when you look at their service record … when you recognize that they sleep in the same tents, they carry arms together, they’ve been in live firefights, how dare anyone question whether or not they deserve to come to this country or to a safe third country?”

Almost all the Afghans employed by the embassy or by our military forces were educated. They went through their own vetting process before they were allowed to work. It’s not those refugees we have to worry about. It’s everyone else who was able to get on a plane out of Kabul. The chaos of this evacuation means hundreds, possibly thousands, of unvetted people likely got on board airplanes.

Still, the chances of one of the refugees being a terrorist are slim. That doesn’t mean we should throw caution to the wind. But why would anyone object if the refugees were required to spend time in a safe third country before being allowed in? Anything less would be irresponsible.