The Washington Post reported Friday that the Department of Defense was trying to dispel the notion that there was any kind of security risk represented by Afghan refugees hastily airlifted out of the failed state by the U.S. military.
For Karen DeYoung and John Wagner’s piece — headlined “Pentagon seeks to tamp down concern about Afghan refugees as Trump, GOP question vetting” — the chief Pentagon dispeller and concern-tamper-downer was Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, head of the U.S. Northern Command. He said that among the 53,000 people who have been brought into the United States so far, there have only been what he termed a handful of security incidents.
“For a population of 53,000,” VanHerck said, “what we’re seeing is law enforcement violations on par with and in most cases significantly lower than in similar-sized” American cities.
This is a particularly sanguine way of looking at the aftermath of President Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. It’s also not terribly relevant as a parallel.
Most towns of 53,000 people, for instance, aren’t comprised of refugees on a military base who know they need to be on their best behavior to get permanent residence in America. There also aren’t a whole lot of reports of adult men with child “brides” taking up residence in 53,000-person towns; there have been an undetermined but not insubstantial, if reports are to be believed, number of those among the Afghan refugees.
There typically aren’t 28 people in towns of 53,000 who are flagged as potential national security threats — the same number of flagged national security threats, it must be noted, who had reached U.S. soil by Sept. 10, according to a previous report from the Post.
And in most U.S. cities and towns of 53,000 persons, you don’t routinely have over 700 people simply disappear because they no longer wish to be subject to the town’s jurisdiction.
On Friday, Reuters reported that the number of “independent departures” of Afghan refugees being housed at our military bases has topped 700 and could well be higher, according to sources. Over 300 of those came from Fort Bliss, which straddles the Texas-New Mexico border.
“Independent departure,” for those of you who can’t suss the meaning out, involves people walking off the bases without receiving resettlement services. The wire service reported that “the phenomenon is raising alarms among immigration advocates concerned about the risks to Afghans who give up on what is now an open-ended, complex and completely voluntary resettlement process.”
A Department of Homeland Security representative didn’t comment but said the individuals who had left “generally” had the resources to support themselves and ties to the United States via family and/or friends.
The chief concern of those quoted in Reuters’ article was whether walking off the bases might cost those who did it dearly. According to the wire service, “leaving early could cost other Afghan evacuees critical benefits — like expedited work permits – and create a slew of legal problems down the road, given the complexities of the U.S. immigration system.”
“It’s a giant can of worms,” a Citizenship and Immigration Services official said. “This could lead to years and years of terrible immigration status problems.”
A bigger issue might be the fact there’s no legal authority that the military has to keep the refugees on bases. According to Reuters, by leaving the bases, refugees break no U.S. laws, and there’s no legal authority by which military officials can hold the Afghans against their will.
Apparently, President Joe Biden isn’t willing to do anything to make this more difficult, either.
The news about the refugees walking off of bases, however, comes after a number of assaults at both Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Bliss.
At Fort McCoy, as the Daily Mail pointed out Friday, one 20-year-old Afghan refugee is charged with three counts of engaging in sex acts with a minor and a 32-year-old man faces charges for assaulting his wife by strangling and suffocating her.
Meanwhile, at Fort Bliss, reports state that a soldier was assaulted by at least three Afghan refugees while she was reporting for duty.
There’s also the question of child brides. Yahoo News reported that a Sept. 5 Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis report said that “U.S. officials at intake centers in the United Arab Emirates and in Wisconsin have found many incidents in which Afghan girls have been presented to authorities as the wives of much older men.”
The report went on to say “forced or coerced ‘marriages’ are indicative of the level of desperation Afghan families are willing to consider helping loved ones escape the Taliban and qualify for evacuation to Western countries.”
“The concern is, we’re seeing a lot of family units with very young girls. These girls are brought into the U.S. as wives,” an official familiar with the reports told Yahoo News. “It’s not a small number.”
“The reality is, overseas the vetting process sucks — there’s minimal vetting,” the official added. “So now we have a 60-year-old guy with a 12-year-old girl saying, ‘That’s my wife.’”
Sound like your 53,000-resident town?
And yet, when Biden put forth a vaccine mandate last month, part of the reason he gave was this: “My job as president is to protect all Americans.”
We’re supposed to assume that’s anything other than empty rhetoric when poorly vetted refugees can walk off military bases with no legal recourse?
Give us a break.