House Republicans on Wednesday pressured President Biden to answer questions about the vetting process of Afghans who have been airlifted out of the Taliban-run country.
Dozens of congressional Republicans signed on to a letter Wednesday to Mr. Biden demanding answers about the security screening conducted on Afghan refugees entering the U.S.
“There are substantial and concrete concerns that in the course of your calamitous withdrawal of troops and evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, some individuals may have made their way into the country who are terrorists or have terrorist intent, are convicted violent criminals, or are otherwise dangerous persons,” they said.
When asked about the request, the White House referred to a background call with senior administration officials regarding the screening process.
“That process involves biometric and biographic security screenings conducted by our intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals who are working quite literally around the clock to vet all of these Afghans before they’re allowed into the United States,” the official told reporters.
The official described different categories of Afghan evacuees being airlifted out of the country, ranging from U.S. citizens and green-card holders to special-visa applicants and other vulnerable Afghans identified by the federal government.
The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, and Rep. Yvette Herrell of New Mexico. More than 41 other Republicans signed it.
They also asked for information on any steps the administration is taking to evacuate the remaining Americans in Afghanistan.
The letter cited a case reported by The Washington Times of a 47-year-old Afghan man evacuated to the U.S. despite having a rape conviction on his record.
“If our government cannot consult its own records before it brings foreign nationals to the United States, how can we expect competent vetting of foreign records, where access and information are limited? DHS background and security checks therefore cannot assure Americans’ safety,” wrote the lawmakers.
They asked who will be held accountable for crimes committed by improperly vetted migrants.
GOP members of the House Freedom Caucus last week made a similar request of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Mr. Mayorkas has shared little about the evacuation efforts, except that he would ensure Americans’ safety and there were some people on security watchlists who are among the Afghans evacuated and are currently being held.
The secretary said there were more than 50,000 Afghans set to be resettled into the U.S. and the administration is working on helping more Afghan nationals escape their country.