26 Republican senators ask Biden for info on vetting of Afghanistan evacuees, Americans left behind

Tom Cotton says Biden ‘pulled the rug out’ from Afghan army, calls withdrawal a ‘disastrous miscalculation’

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., says that President Biden’s ‘feckless’ decision to adhere to the withdrawal deadline caused Americans to remain stranded in Afghanistan

Republican senators issued a letter Thursday demanding President Biden provide the exact number of Americans, green-card holders and special immigrant visa applicants who remain in Afghanistan as well as what type of vetting evacuees are undergoing before being granted entry to the United States.

The group of 26 Republicans, led by Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, have given the president until the end of business Tuesday to give the public a full accounting of who was “left behind” after the last of the U.S. troops evacuated Kabul on Monday.

“We write regarding the humanitarian crisis created by your withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, and the safety and well-being of our fellow countrymen and allies who you left behind,” the senators wrote. 

“The signatories of this letter may have differing opinions about whether the United States should have maintained a military presence in Afghanistan, but we all agree that the arbitrary and poorly-planned method by which you withdrew from Afghanistan caused this crisis,” they wrote.

The senators are seeking the exact number of people still stranded in Afghanistan who want to leave and what the administration is doing to keep in contact with those people. They also want to know the vetting of the Afghan refugees who are not SIVs or green-card holders and whether they were evacuated to the U.S. without any pending immigration application or status with the United States.

“By what criteria did your administration select these individuals for the airlift while leaving American citizens, green-card holders, and SIV applicants and their families behind?” they asked in the letter. “How many evacuees, in total, are Afghans who are not American citizens, green-card holders, or SIV applicants or their families? Please also provide a breakdown of how many of these individuals are adult men, adult women, girls, or boys.”

“What steps did your administration take to verify the identities of these individuals before evacuation?” they asked. “What steps are your administration taking to ensure that individuals are thoroughly vetted and their identities verified before entering the United States?”

The senators also want to know who is in charge of the vetting process and whether the administration is checking for potential criminal records and national security concerns before admitting individuals to the U.S.

The letter comes a day after White House press secretary Jen Psaki said “no one” is coming into the U.S. without a thorough background check.

“I can absolutely assure you that no one is coming into the United States of America who has not been through a thorough screening and background check process,” Psaki said during her daily press briefing Wednesday.

The press secretary said the individuals who have not yet passed the screening have been sent to third countries, like Qatar and Germany, while their paperwork is being processed.

“There are many individuals, as you noted, who have not been through that process,” she said. “And they have gone to lily pad countries as that process has been completed. It doesn’t mean that that’s because there is a flag. It means they have not completed their paperwork. And we were working to save tens of thousands of people. Hence we evacuated them to these third countries.”

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