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Last week I visited Holloman Air Force Base in the Second Congress District of New Mexico , which I represent in Congress. The base now accommodates approximately 5,000 Afghan evacuees.
Our Military accomplished a Herculean feat in leading this humanitarian effort. I could not be more proud of our incredible servicemen in Holloman and across the country.
In a matter of days, they have built a small town that could house more than 5,000 people. Evacuees from Afghanistan are fed, clothed, provided with medical services, dormitories adapted to the size of their families, and religious services are available.
None of these charities could be done without the financial support of American taxpayers. Therefore, Americans are entitled to a better understanding of the refugee resettlement process underway in their communities.
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Unfortunately, I left Holloman Air Force Base with more questions than answers. Senior military officials, Homeland Security and State Department officials were unable to provide identity factspeople in the "Village.
They didn't know (or wouldn't say) how many were US citizens, how many were visa applicants special immigrant (SIV), or how many were just people who reached our planes. More importantly, they couldn't say how many refugees had served alongside American forces.
It is surprising that the evacuation e The fort was sold to the American people to save Afghan interpreters for the US military, but I was told that the "Village " de Holloman is obliged to employ at least 50 outside interpreters to bridge the significant language gap.
There were even fewer responses on the verification processon, which is essential to the safety and security of American citizens.
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Representatives government could not confirm whether they had access to and security databases in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries, while insisting that all refugees had suffered a thorough check before being airlifted to the United States, which contradicts the information I received in Washington. They insisted that even the simplest answers were classified but did not offer to move to a classified parameter at the base for further discussion.
I am grateful that we have could save so much allinked as possible from Afghanistan after a hasty evacuation of more than 120,000 people. to our shores. However, knowing who they are is essential.
The 9/11 Commission report explicitly named a failed verification process and lax immigration enforcement as the reasons the terrorist hijackers may have carried out their operations. attacks 20 years ago. We can no longer risk such failures.
What is most alarming is that Homeland Security and the State Department almost admitted that they were playing fast and freely with it. asylum procedures and immigration law.
They will condense an 18-month process into a few weeks for a The SIV program already riddled with fraud. They have imported asylum seekers to America without visas to then give them work permits and parole, thereby bypassing a refugee screening process that usually takes place on foreign soil.
They couldn't provide the legal authority for all of this.
Furthermore, the very notion of resettlement inns a third country in the Middle East seemed to be a particularly controversial idea, as if the suggestion that relocation to areas of culture, language, religion and geography were shocking.
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I was particularly struck that there is no sense of assimilation on the base . An Afghan village has been deposited in Otero County, New Mexico, with elderly men controlling nearly every aspect of life that is not dictated by the US military.
One case demonstrated the profound disconnect between what Afghan families experience in the "Village " and what awaits them outside the gates. While I was waiting for a chat with a four-star general, a soldier informed us that we were seated in the women's tent.s and that men were not allowed to congregate in the tent by decree of the Afghan elders. Despite building the tent with American taxpayer money, the general and his staff were unable to linger.
Surprisingly, the Afghans do not have to stay on the base. They are simply encouraged to stay, as this is where they will go through the process to ultimately gain citizenship status.
If they choose to leave, however, they are not eligible to return to the military installation. There were no signs, literature, or other visible efforts to help these people conform to our society. More worryingly, there has been no discussion of human trafficking, child marriage or sexual abuse which has been widely reported.
After avoWhile visiting Holloman, my concerns about the Biden administration's control over Afghan nationals and their peaceful assimilation only intensified.
The people of New Mexico and all Americans should demand transparency following President Biden 's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
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