Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees are making a new life in America since the Taliban regained control of the country in August.
As numbers grow, the Biden administration wants Congress to make it easier for refugees headed here.
Most of these refugees came here temporarily on humanitarian grounds. While there is wide support for those who worked alongside the U.S. after 9/11, there are concerns about those who didn’t.
The White House estimates 95,000 Afghans will arrive over the next year and will continue fanning out to nearly every state.
Some worked with U.S. troops and government officials Most did not.
“We will admit to the United States, individuals other than U.S. citizens, other than those with permanent resident status and special visa holders, said Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.
The State Department says interpreters, drivers, embassy workers, and others who qualified for special-immigrant-visas should have been evacuated first.
“It should not have been a precipitous, chaotic, and unfortunately deadly departure,” said Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
An unknown number of Americans and U.S. allies have been left behind.
“The reason why they are in this situation at all is their service and their family’s service to the U.S. military,” said Will Berkovitz of Jewish Family Service of Seattle.
More than a month later, they remain at the mercy of the Taliban with no way out.
For those in the U.S., President Biden is pushing lawmakers to approve a $6.3 billion dollar refugee resettlement plan.
The proposal includes waiving standard vetting procedures, fast-tracking green cards, and a path to citizenship plus welfare benefits for all regardless of immigration status. A plan critics say is costly, dangerous, and benefitting people not intended to be here.
“There was no vetting. These were people who got to the airport and managed to get on a plane. Nobody blames them for wanting to get out of there. But we don’t know who these people are,” said Ira Mehlman from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Most are housed at military installations before moving on to more permanent destinations. advocacy groups are also providing resources to help navigate and speed along the immigration process.
Amid the fallout from the disastrous Afghanistan pullout, there is another crisis still unfolding at America’s southern border. Illegal crossings continue to surge to greater high months after month since Biden took office. There is growing concern terrorists will take advantage of the chaos.
“We have wide-open borders. It is not that hard for somebody who gets loose to make it to Central America to come up and come across that border with that surge of humanity that’s been coming across since President Biden took office,” said Mehlman.
As for President Biden’s resettlement plan, House lawmakers have already approved it. Next stop, the Senate, where Democrats have a razor thin majority to get it passed.