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After numerous failures on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to properly vet and screen Afghan evacuees arriving in the United States following the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a combat veteran, is calling out DHS for their gross mismanagement that continues to expose America to threats and demanding the agency implement the recommendations set forth by the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

An OIG report found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admitted or paroled evacuees who were not fully vetted into the United States. The same report found that between the months of July 2021 and January 2022, the United States welcomed more than 79,000 Afghan evacuees, and the Biden administration granted parole to almost 72,550 of those evacuees.

In a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Ernst is expressing deep concern with the agency’s inadequate job of properly screening, vetting, and inspecting tens of thousands of evacuees and is calling on the agency to immediately implement the OIG’s recommendations to identify all evacuees from Afghanistan currently in the U.S. who were improperly screened and vetted.

In her letter, Ernst writes, “According to the OIG, ‘DHS may have admitted or paroled individuals into the United States who pose a risk to national security and the safety of local communities.’ The disturbing nature of this statement is compounded by the Department’s failure to take any action to remedy the situation …“This is unacceptable. The mission of your Department is public security. DHS must rectify the situation immediately.”

Ernst requests a response to the following questions:

  1. Given that the status quo is unacceptable, what is DHS’ plan to:
    1. Immediately identify and fully screen and vet all Afghan evacuees within the United States; and
    2. Implement OIG’s recommendations to prepare for future humanitarian events?
  2. While DHS has dismissed the findings of the OIG report, have you identified weaknesses within your Department that can be remedied to improve future screening and vetting processes?
  3. CBP’s latest reports show there have been 78 encounters with individuals on the Terrorist Screening Dataset (TSDS)—also known as the “watchlist.” Are any of the apprehended terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda or the Taliban?

Author: Press Release


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