Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that the U.S. should not bring Afghan refugees to American soil. You can find a counterpoint here, where the Heritage Foundation’s Lora Ries and Olivia Enos argue that the U.S. should do everything possible to help Afghan refugees, including bringing them to America.
Joe Biden is already a historic leader. He may be the first president to cause two humanitarian disasters in the first year of his administration. The first is the well-documented crisis at our southern border, which bolstered the human trafficking cartels and caused untold numbers of children to be held in deplorable conditions.
The second crisis is the botched exit of our military from Afghanistan, which has created tens of thousands of Afghan refugees desperately seeking a way out of the country to avoid being slaughtered by the repressive and brutal Taliban. Both situations are tragic and could have easily been avoided with smarter leadership.
Given the way this administration has mismanaged us into a corner in Afghanistan, however, this moment necessitates realpolitik, not what-ifs and aspirational thinking. Given our 20-year presence in the country, we cannot simply walk away from those targeted by the Taliban. Something must be done to save as many as possible, but it should not be an automatic one-way ticket to the United States.
As evidenced by the throngs of Afghans clinging to U.S. planes on the runway, this is not a matter of just a few thousand people. Former CIA analyst Matt Zeller recently lambasted earlier White House claims that there were only 2,000 people left behind in Afghanistan. He said the real number is 86,000 people. Now there are reports that the Pentagon is preparing to house up to 30,000 Afghan refugees at U.S. military bases. This strategy is both dangerous and inefficient.
The fact is that loyalties are very fluid in Afghanistan. While many translators were helpful to the U.S. mission in the country, there are others with questionable allegiances. Sean Parnell, decorated Afghan war veteran and U.S. Senate candidate, told Tucker Carlson about a longtime translator for his unit who turned out to be working with an Iranian terror cell. He betrayed the unit and led them to a hidden explosive device that killed one American serviceman and seriously wounded several others.
“Just because an Afghan works with us and is friends with us does not actually mean they are safe to bring here,” Parnell said. “And this is precisely why we cannot bring 30,000 unvetted Afghan refugees to the United States of America. It’s an irresponsible policy.”
Given the state of emergency in Afghanistan, there is no way U.S. officials could possibly conduct effective vetting of 30,000 refugees to determine the threat level they may present. Allowing these people to live at military bases in the U.S. is a stopgap measure. At some point they will have to be moved elsewhere, which means some of them could be coming to a community near you.
Given the ruthlessness of Middle Eastern terror groups and the incompetence of this administration, it is not hard to imagine extremely dangerous terrorists slipping through this process and winding up in U.S. cities. Yet during all its finger-pointing and blame-shifting on this crisis, the Biden administration hasn’t said much about the threat this policy could pose to the American people.
A far more practical strategy would be to relocate these refugees in safe countries closer to Afghanistan. The U.S. Committee for Refugees has estimated that a day’s worth of funding needed to settle a single refugee in the U.S. would cover the needs of at least 12 refugees abroad. Assisting displaced individuals abroad, rather than admitting them to the U.S. for permanent resettlement, allows U.S. resources to be allocated in a more effective way that helps far more people.
In better times, as recently as the Trump administration just eight months ago, our borders were under control and we might have had more options on dealing with a flow of Afghan refugees. Joe Biden and his acolytes have turned our southern border into a dumpster fire, however, and our immigration infrastructure is stressed to its limit and beyond. As a result, we have few good options to deal with yet another avoidable crisis. Airlifting tens of thousands of Afghans with questionable backgrounds into the U.S. is far from a good idea. It is dumb and dangerous.
Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.