By M.D. Kittle
MADISON —As Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy continues to take in Afghan refugees, serious questions remain about just who’s arriving at the U.S. Army installation.
State. Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) says he feels pretty good about the people behind the mission of taking in and resettling thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing from a brutal Taliban regime. But Kurtz said it was disconcerting to learn that some of the guests coming to western Wisconsin are arriving without identification. He said Maj. Gen. Darrell Guthrie, Fort McCoy’s senior commander, and Biden administration officials could not answer questions about protocol surrounding individuals who don’t have Special Immigrant Visas — particularly should a “red flag” come up on site.
“I think inevitably they’re going to have questions about somebody coming through, and what to do with him. I was shocked when (a Biden Administration official) said she didn’t know. We need to know,” said Kurtz, who toured the facility last week with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) and fellow Republican members of the Legislature.
The questions become more critical in the chaotic evacuation of Americans and Afghans amid President Joe Biden’s fiasco of a withdrawal of U.S. forces. The desperation quickened after suicide bombers killed more than 100, including 13 U.S. service members, at Kabul’s airport. Vetting of refugees became all the more complicated and hectic.
U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) warned that the administration’s haphazard efforts could lead to the U.S. “importing terrorists.”
On Friday, Republicans in the state Assembly and Senate sent Biden a letter condemning the Democrat for his handling of the situation.
“Chaos engulfs Afghanistan and it is clear that your administration had no clear plan to respond to the collapse of the central government and the fall of Kabul,” the letter states. “Your administration has publicly conceded that it is unable – and perhaps unwilling – to guarantee the safety of Americans attempting to make their way to the Kabul airport. Additionally, your administration’s inability to manage the deteriorating security situation means our country is poised to break faith with thousands of extremely vetted interpreters who served alongside our military in combat against the Taliban.”
The lawmakers demand the administration guarantee safe passage for American citizens trapped in Afghanistan. And Biden must ensure “highly vetted Special Immigrant Visa applicants and holders trapped in Kabul are welcomed into the airport perimeter and moved out of the country.”
“Their loyalty to our country has been demonstrated under fire and we must pull them from the clutches of the Taliban,” the letter states.