FIRST ON FOX: The Republican Study Committee is telling its members that it will fight against a proposal by the Biden administration that allows for the tens of thousands of Afghans being brought in to quickly apply for permanent U.S. residency — warning of a plan to “open our borders to a Taliban-run nation.”
In a memo, obtained by Fox News, titled “The Dems’ Dangerous Open Border Plan for Afghanistan,” Chairman Jim Banks takes aim at language for “riders” included by the White House in a request for a continuing resolution (CR).
“Those riders include $6.4 billion in funding for Afghan refugee resettlement and language that would give any unvetted Afghan national flown into the United States between July 31, 2021 and the end of the next fiscal year lifetime welfare and a path to citizenship,” the memo says.
The White House request would speed up processing and fund military bases where they are being processed. It also seeks to allow all refugees who come in from Afghanistan and are paroled into the U.S. to apply for a green card after a year of having entered the U.S. if they have entered any time between July 2021 and the end of September 2022.
This would mean any refugee who entered the U.S. in recent weeks would be eligible for a green card by this time next year. A green card holder can then apply for U.S. citizenship within a few years.
The memo raises concerns about background checks and screening, which specifies only that the refugees must complete the checks “in accordance with the policies and procedures put in place as part of Operation Allies Welcome (or any predecessor or successor operation) or equivalent background checks and screening.”
“That’s a glaring issue: There are no policies and procedures laid out in Operation Allies Welcome,” the Republican memo says, warning that the vetting will “end up being what DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the man directly overseeing the crisis at the southern border, wants it to be.”
“The White House’s proposed riders want to open our borders to a Taliban-run nation, and conservatives will fight this continuing resolution every step of the way,” the memo says.
The Biden administration has been pushing back against concerns about the vetting process as Republicans have repeatedly raised fears of potential terrorists or criminals arriving. Mayorkas said recently that he has dispatched approximately 400 Homeland Security personnel to the countries from where Afghans are being transported to the U.S. to capture biographic information as well as biometrics as part of the screening process.
“We have a multi-layered, multi-agency screening and vetting process to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said, referring to the terrorist threat. “We screen and vet individuals before they board planes to travel to the United States and that screening and vetting process is an ongoing one and multi-layered,” he said.
“We work with law enforcement, counter-terrorist and intelligence communities to achieve that vetting,” he said. “We do not do it alone in the Department of Homeland Security, once again, we do it with the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and other departments and agencies across the federal enterprise.”
Separately, a White House official told Fox News last week that screening and security are conducted by intelligence, law enforcement and counterterrorism officials from multiple agencies and includes reviews of biographic and biometric data.
The Banks memo also notes that the language would allow any Afghan national paroled to be eligible for resettlement assistance and entitlement programs among other benefits.
“In other words, Afghan nationals admitted through this resettlement program will be allowed to take advantage of all existing entitlement programs such as cash welfare, food stamps, Medicaid and public housing,” it says.
The memo also pushes back against language that allows DHS to waive grounds of inadmissibility “on a case-by-case basis for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or when it is otherwise in the public interest” and also to extend the parole benefits to Afghan spouses and children.
“The Biden administration is making the same mistake the Clinton administration did,” the memo says. “They’re approaching the Taliban with far too much naivete.”
Last week, a number of Republicans wrote to the administration expressing concern about the ability to screen people coming from Afghanistan.
“Foreign nations’ records are often digitized, which is likely the case in the vast majority of records in Afghanistan,” the letter, led by Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., said. “In addition, widespread corruption and failed governments make these databases unreliable, if not useless. This is certainly the case in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and likely true of the previous Afghan government.”
A senior GOP aide told Fox News that conversations about the language have been bubbling up on Capitol Hill.
“More and more are realizing that if this language is included, Dems are going to have a hard time finding support for the CR,” the aide said.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, a senior government official outlined the screening and vetting process for Fox News, saying that the process begins overseas.
The administration has deployed more than 200 Customs and Border Protection officials overseas to capture the biometrics and biographics of individuals. The official said CBP officials then are able to work with “interagency partners,” including officials within the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, the intelligence community, the Department of Defense and others within the Department of Homeland Security to “look at data across databases to vet.”
The official explained that there is a “second layer” of screening once individuals arrive at a U.S. point of entry. Officials there go through the information and “make sure no one let into the country is of concern.”
They also said that so far no Afghans “of concern” had entered the U.S.