Trump aides aim to build GOP opposition to Afghan refugees

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As thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban reach the US, some former Trump administration officials are working to turn Republicans against them.

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Former officials are writing status papers, appearing on conservative television outlets and meeting privately with GOP lawmakers — all in a bid to turn Afghanistan’s collapse into another opportunity to advance a hard-line immigration agenda. in effort.

“It’s a collaboration based on mutual trust,” said Stephen Miller, the architect of President Donald Trump’s most conservative immigration policies and one of the people involved in the issue. “My emphasis has been on talking to members of Congress to build support for opposing the Biden administration’s overall refugee plans.”


This view is not accepted by all Republican leaders, with some calling it mean and Christian teachings that are critical of white evangelicals playing a key role in the party’s base. The strategy relies on tactics that were common during Trump’s tenure and that turned off many voters, including racist tropes, fear-mongering, and false accusations.

And radicals pay little attention to the human reality unfolding in Afghanistan, where those working with Americans during the war are desperate to flee for fear that they may be killed by the new Taliban regime.

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But Republicans pushing the issue are betting it can open a new front in the culture wars they’ve been fighting since the election of President Joe Biden, adding to anti-immigrant sentiment that fueled Trump’s political rise. In which there is widespread dissatisfaction with the Afghan withdrawal. GOP voters, they hope, can be inspired to move into the midterms next year, when Congress’s control is at stake.

“From a political standpoint, cultural issues are the most important issues that are on the mind of the American people,” said Ross Watt, Trump’s former budget chief and president of the Center for Renewing America, a nonprofit group working on building There is opposition to the Afghan refugee settlement in the US, as well as other hot-button issues, such as critical race theory, which considers American history through the lens of racism.

His group is working, he said, “a sort of punch that exists” through the unanimity that the return was chaotic, but that Afghan refugees deserve to come to America.

Officials emphasize that every Afghan leaving for the country is subject to extensive investigations that include thorough biometric and biographical checks conducted by intelligence, law enforcement and counter-terrorism personnel. In a pair of hearings this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “rigorous security checks” begin in transit countries before refugees arrive in the US and continue at US military bases before anyone is resettled. The investigation continues while refugees await further processing.

But Trump and his allies, who have increasingly veiled refugee admissions while in office, insist the refugees are at risk.

“Who are all the people who come to our country?” Trump recently asked in a statement. “How many of them are terrorists?”

As the US faces many challenges, it is unclear whether voters will consider immigration a major priority next year. It was a major motivator for voters in the 2018 midterm elections, with 4 out of 10 Republicans identifying it as the top issue facing the nation, according to data from AP VoteCast. But it became far less prominent two years later, when in 2020 only 3% of voters – including 5% of Republicans – named it as the number 1 issue facing the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic woes.

When it comes to refugees, 68% of Americans say they support the US among those fleeing Afghanistan after security checks, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll in late August and early September happened. This includes a majority – 56% – Republicans.

Party leaders are not united. Dozens of Republican lawmakers and their offices are working tirelessly to help Afghans flee the country. And some, like Sen. Thom Tillis, R.N.C. has warned those in his party who have suggested that Afghans pose a security risk.

The Biden administration’s refusal to provide an account of who was able to leave Afghanistan during America’s chaotic evacuation operation from Kabul’s airport has raised some doubts voiced by the right-wing.

The State Department said that between August 17-31, more than 23,800 Afghans arrived in the US. Thousands remain at US military sites abroad for screening and other processing. But officials have said they are still working to compile how many are applicants for a special immigrant visa program to help Afghan interpreters and Americans as well as others who serve are designed, how many are considered by others to be “Afghan at risk,” like journalists and human rights activists, and how many fall into other categories.

The organization War Time Alliance estimates that 20,000 special visa applicants live in the country, not counting their families and others eligible to come to the US.

Ken Cuccinelli, who served as acting deputy secretary of Trump’s Department of Homeland Security and is now a senior fellow at the Center for Renewing America, says he does not believe refugees have faced adequate review.

“It is unacceptable as a simple administrative matter,” he said of the process. Whereas Cuccinelli, like Miller, believes that SIV should be…

Credit: / Afghan

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