The Biden administration’s Afghan immigrant relocation program is being probed by the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, with Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) raising concerns about the “nature of persons” who are being resettled.
The issue has come to the fore as hundreds of Afghans are suspected of having terror links, with many individuals not providing proper documents to U.S. authorities during the transfer process.
“It is inconceivable that proper vetting procedures were followed during the chaos and disarray of the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan and questions remain to the nature of persons enrolled in domestic resettlement programs,” he said.
“It is incumbent upon Congress to gain more transparency into the programs that have been instated to accomplish resettlement efforts and gain answers for the American people.”
Potential Terror Suspects RelocatedThe committee is seeking documents related to the CARE program, including contracts, agreements, and communications. It also asked for information on employees and contractors involved in the CARE program and the hiring process that led to such appointments. The documents are to be submitted by Oct. 5.
The letter pointed out that the Committee on Oversight and Accountability is the “principal oversight committee” of the U.S. House of Representatives and thus has the authority to investigate “any matter at any time.”
The letter was written to Dan Forbes, chief of staff for CARE, and Joel Sandefur, Afghanistan mission director at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
BEWL is a DOD watchlist that “identifies individuals whose biometrics have been collected and determined by analysts to be threats or potential threats to national security, including known suspected terrorists,” the letter said.
An earlier report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General had found that the department failed to fully vet about 80,000 Afghans brought into the United States.
Afghan Settlement in USMr. Comer’s Sept. 21 letter came the same day that Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced an “extension and redesignation” of Afghanistan’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months that gives temporary legal status to Afghan migrants.
The TPS extension is effective Nov. 21, 2023, to May 20, 2025, and applies to 3,100 existing migrant beneficiaries. It would also enable an estimated 14,600 more Afghan nationals to make their initial applications for TPS and stay in the United States.
A country is designated with TPS when it experiences an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary conditions.
Afghanistan’s designation is due to the “serious threat posed by ongoing armed conflict; lack of access to food, clean water and healthcare; and destroyed infrastructure, internal displacement and economic instability,” the DHS said.
“While we work diligently to repatriate migrants from these countries, we still have challenges with countries' governments to get working programs in place to repatriate all those we apprehend,” he said at the time.
According to the outlet, applications for the program were surging at the time, with seven times more applicants in the visa pipeline at the time compared to the summer of 2021.
In an interview with Foreign Policy, Shawn VanDiver, president and chair of the board of #AfghanEvac, one of the largest private organizations trying to relocate Afghan people from the country, estimated that “somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000—or maybe more” were eligible to leave with SIVs, P-1s, and P-2s.
Both P-1 and P-2 are visas that grant temporary travel permits to the United States.