By Sen. Patrick Tesin
The nation has watched with alarm the unfolding chaos in Afghanistan as President Biden pulled the rug out from under the Afghan army, resulting in the Taliban seizing power of the nation in under 240 hours. While the President’s precipitous and poorly planned actions have placed the Afghan people in danger and guaranteed the death and oppression of Afghan women, he has also made our own nation less safe from the threat posed by terrorists.
And as people flee Afghanistan, the Biden Administration has no clear plan to safely manage the massive influx of thousands of people per day from a known terrorist training ground, some without even basic identification, who may be transported directly to communities in the United States.
There is no clear plan for background checks. There is no clear vetting plan. The plan for issuing visas appears to be dependent on using “volunteers” – a proposal that raises strong concerns since prior to the pullout, qualified staff have been denying 80% of Afghani visa applications.
There is no clear plan for health screenings. There is no clear plan for potentially necessary quarantines or vaccinations.
The simple fact is that in the midst of the dangerous situation he caused in radicalized Afghanistan, President Biden has also made our own nation less safe, and has no plan to mitigate those dangers.
The people of Wisconsin are generous. We feel deep sympathy for those allies that our President abandoned and who now seek refuge. We honor the memory of the soldiers who gave their lives in an abandoned attempt to bring freedom and democracy to the Afghan people, while protecting our own.
We do not however, trust that the President, or your administration, are taking even minimal steps to assure that the 30,000 Afghans to be moved to in Wisconsin and Texas will be properly identified or screened, or that proper background or health checks will be completed.
As we see images of planes overrun with people, and remains found in the wheel wells of U.S. planes leaving the country, we do not trust that the President knows who he is sending to our communities.
You have failed to raise any of the concerns Wisconsinites have. The President seems not to have seen fit to share information with you on numbers, on timing, on whether the people coming to our state are all in fact refugees. You have offered no information on how whether you intend to insist on safeguards for the people of this state, or whether you intend to close your eyes and open your arms to 10 to 20 thousand potentially unidentified, potentially unvetted, potentially unhealthy people as they pour into rural Wisconsin.
I write today to ask your plans.
- Have you demanded the federal government conduct complete and thorough screening and identification before any people are located in Wisconsin?
- Given the uncontrolled exodus from Kabul, and the overwhelming proportion of visa denials to Afghanis in the recent past, what assurances have you been given we will be accepting only former allies into Wisconsin, and not enemies who exploited the chaos to gain entrance to the U.S.?
- Can you guarantee that thorough health screenings will be conducted before acceptance into Wisconsin? What are your plans for COVID testing and vaccination for those here?
- Have you placed any limit on the number of relocations we will accept?
- If 30,000 initial refugees are being divided between just 2 states, Wisconsin will shoulder a huge portion of this population. Refugees are eligible for Medical Assistance, BadgerCare, W2, and cash assistance. Has your administration calculated the added cost to Wisconsin taxpayers of 10-20,000 individuals who will doubtless be enrolled in these programs?
- If you plan to accept a population roughly equivalent to that of Marshfield, all of whom will be dependent on government assistance programs, have you asked for full federal reimbursement of all these costs that will otherwise be borne by Wisconsin taxpayers? If not, where do you propose diverting funds from to finance this expense?
- What plans has your administration made for the increased demands such a large influx of people presents to rural Wisconsin, including health care, law enforcement, education, and housing?
- What are your plans for transparency with this massive undertaking? When can we expect to see a dashboard so we may track the numbers, visas, health statistics, costs, problems and in particular the ejection of any refugees found to have terrorist ties?
Again, as you well know, Wisconsinites are generous people who care for those in need, and who deeply sympathize for those allies our President abandoned so hastily, leaving their country in the hands of terrorists. We want to help those allies. However, Wisconsin is apparently expected to take in and provide for a huge portion of the people leaving that nation, with no assurances that they will all be screened or vetted, with no assurances they will all arrive healthy, with no assurances that they are all, in fact, allies.
Wisconsinites deserve a plan, answers, assurances, financial assistance, and transparency before people land in this state – none of which are forthcoming.
We look forward to your answers, and the implementation of transparency in this process.
State Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Steven Point) represents the 24th Senate District and serves as President Pro Tempore of the Senate.