Senators ask White House for details on Afghanistan evacuation strategies


CHARLESTON — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and nine Republican colleagues wrote President Biden Thursday seeking answers on how the administration plans to evacuate the Americans and Afghan allies still on the ground in Afghanistan.

In the letter to the president, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the senators asked detailed questions, many prompted by constituents in their home states seeking help in bringing loved ones home. Joining Senator Capito on the letter, led by U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.), were Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

“For decades, the United States has served as a refuge to those seeking safety and a better life, and we stand united in ensuring that those individuals who fought and worked for peace in Afghanistan and who served alongside our brave men and women in uniform are provided that same opportunity today,” the senators wrote. “We trust that your administration will give highest priority to addressing these questions, and we request that you provide answers in an open, unclassified response to better inform the American people, many of whom are desperate for answers.”

See the full text of the letter below.

Dear Mr. President,

To date, at least one hundred American citizens—including school-aged children—who sought to leave Afghanistan remain trapped, notwithstanding your commitment to safely bring them home. Additionally, tens of thousands of Afghan nationals who assisted our military efforts, served in public and private institutions and worked for a more free and prosperous Afghanistan, and/or worked as direct employees of American federal agencies remain in Afghanistan and are completely unprotected from the predations of the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.

Clearly, the American people—and certainly the individuals who remain in Afghanistan—need answers about how your administration intends to keep its promise to continue assisting individuals who desire to evacuate. As such, we request your attention to the following questions in order to best inform our constituents and ensure congressional actions are appropriately directed.

• What is your strategy for effectively providing consular services from Doha, Qatar to U.S. citizens, legal residents, and valid visa holders currently in Afghanistan?

• How will you seek to assist Afghan nationals who remain in Afghanistan and need to complete the application process to receive a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) or Priority 2 (P-2) refugee designation?

• Is the SIV or P-2 determination process for those who have been evacuated from Afghanistan, regardless of their current location or plans to bring them to the United States, still being expedited?

• Are SIV or P-2 applicants being processed on different timelines based upon their current location, i.e., outside the United States or on United States territory?

• For Afghan evacuees who have been transported to Department of Defense (DOD) and state National Guard installations within the United States, will they be permitted, once they have received a medical clearance, to stay with family members, friends, or sponsors while awaiting final SIV or P-2 determination? Will they also be permitted to find employment in the U.S.? For Afghan evacuees who have been transported to DOD and state National Guard installations within the United States who do not receive a positive SIV or P-2 determination, what happens next?

For decades, the United States has served as a refuge to those seeking safety and a better life, and we stand united in ensuring that those individuals who fought and worked for peace in Afghanistan and who served alongside our brave men and women in uniform are provided that same opportunity today. We trust that your administration will give highest priority to addressing these questions, and we request that you provide answers in an open, unclassified response to better inform the American people, many of whom are desperate for answers.

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