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Last week I visited Holoman Air Force Base in the Second Congressional District of New Mexico, which I represent in Congress. The base now hosts an estimated 5,000 Afghan evacuees.

Our army has achieved a great achievement in carrying out this humanitarian effort. I couldn’t be more proud of Holoman and our wonderful service members around the country.

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In a matter of days, he built a small town that would house over 5,000 people. Those evacuated from Afghanistan are fed, clothed, provided medical services, given sleeping quarters adapted to their family size, and provided religious services.

None of this charitable work could have been done without the financial support of American taxpayers. Therefore, Americans deserve a better understanding of the refugee resettlement process taking place in their communities.

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Unfortunately, I left Holloman Air Force Base with more questions than answers. High-ranking military officials and officials from the Department of Homeland Security and State could not provide facts about the identities of the “village” residents.

They didn’t know (or wouldn’t say) how many US citizens there were, how many Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants there were, or how many people who made it onto our airplane. More importantly, they could not say how many refugees had a role with the US military.

It’s astonishing that the evacuation effort was sold to the American people as a defense of Afghan interpreters for the US military, yet I was told that the “village” in Holoman had at least 50 external interpreters to bridge the critical language gap. forced to appoint. .

There were even fewer answers about the revision process, which is necessary for the safety and security of US citizens.

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Government officials could not confirm whether they had access to criminal and security databases in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries, while still insisting that all refugees be taken to the United States before extensive investigations. had to go through, which was contrary to the briefings I had received in Washington. . He insisted that even the simplest answers were graded but did not offer to go to a graded setting on grounds for further discussion.

The 9/11 Commission report explicitly named a failed vetting process and cited immigration enforcement as the reasons that terrorist hijackers were able to carry out their attacks 20 years ago. We cannot afford to repeat such failures.

I am thankful that we were able to save as many allies from Afghanistan as we could after swiftly evacuating more than 120,000 people to our shores. However, it is important to find out who they are.

The 9/11 Commission report explicitly named a failed vetting process and cited immigration enforcement as the reasons that terrorist hijackers were able to carry out their attacks 20 years ago. We cannot afford to repeat such failures.

Most alarming, Homeland Security and the Department of State all admitted that they played fast and loose with refugee procedures and immigration law.

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They would shorten the 18-month process for an already fraudulently massive SIV program to just weeks. They imported asylum seekers into the US without visas and then granted them work permits and parole, bypassing the process of screening refugees that usually takes place on foreign soil.

They could not confer a statutory right to any of them.

In addition, the notion of third country resettlement in the Middle East was a particularly controversial idea, as was the suggestion that resettlement in areas with similar culture, language, religion, and geography was aggressive.

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I was particularly amazed that there is no feeling of assimilation at the base. A village in Afghanistan is locked in Otero County, New Mexico, where male elders control nearly all aspects of life as directed by the US military.

One example demonstrates a deep connection between what Afghan families are experiencing in the “village” and what awaits them outside the gate. While I waited for a discussion with the four-star general, an enlisted service member advised us that we were seated in the women’s tent, and that men were not allowed to congregate in the tent by order of the Afghan male elders. Despite building a tent with American taxpayer dollars, the general and his staff could not stop there.

Surprisingly, Afghans do not need to be at the base. They are simply encouraged to stay, as this is where they will eventually go through the process of obtaining citizenship status.

If they choose to leave, however, they are not eligible to return to the military installation. There were no signs, literature, or other visible efforts to help these people conform to our society. Even more worrying, there was no discussion of human trafficking, child brides, or sexual abuse, which have been widely reported.

After visiting Holoman, my concerns about the Biden administration’s investigation of Afghan civilians and their peaceful assimilation have only intensified.

The people of New Mexico and all Americans should demand transparency in the wake of President Biden’s chaotic return from Afghanistan.

Click here to read more from the rep. Yvette Herrell