President Joe Biden’s administration wants to bring in up to 95,000 refugees from Afghanistan. Given that number, we’d better hope the administration is able to do a better job of vetting whom it’s bringing over than it’s done thus far.
In the second case of a felon being evacuated to the United States, a man who was deported back to Afghanistan in 2017 after a 2011 conviction for aggravated robbery made it onto U.S. soil, The Washington Times reported on Thursday.
While the man was flagged when he arrived at Washington Dulles Airport, he made it all the way there without setting off any alarm bells at overseas checkpoints — and the fact he reached the United States will make it more difficult to deport him.
The Times reported that deportation proceedings have begun against the unnamed aggravated robbery suspect, but he says he’s afraid of returning to the country he left; that could trigger another deportation fight for him.
“He likely is not eligible for asylum because of his felony,” the Times reported. “Aggravated robbery is a serious offense involving the use of a weapon or threats of force.
“Still, he could argue against removal under the Convention Against Torture.”
When queried about whether this was a case that could have been detected overseas before the man arrived at Washington Dulles Airport, the Department of Homeland Security wouldn’t answer but told the Times that putting convicts like the aggravated robber on planes back to Afghanistan isn’t the easiest thing.
“Removal decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account a range of considerations. At this point, we are not removing individuals to Afghanistan,” the DHS said.
In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement hasn’t operated flights returning deportees to Afghanistan since late 2020.
Should the U.S. take in 95,000 Afghan refugees?
The incident comes after the much-publicized arrest of Ghader Heydari, a 47-year-old man who was convicted of felony rape in Idaho and deported back to Afghanistan in 2017.
According to CBS News, Heydari also faced arrest after arriving at Dulles Airport on Aug. 27 — but yet again, he’d made it that far before detection, having passed through overseas checkpoints. Both convicts were flagged by Customs and Border Protection officers, according to the Times.
Heydari is being held at the Caroline Detention Facility in Bowling Green, Virginia, pending the outcome of his case.
Kieran Donahue is the sheriff in Canyon County, Idaho, close to where Heydari was convicted of rape. He said the Afghan’s presence in the country reopens old wounds for people there.
“This guy’s a threat. And the United States — the Biden administration — brought him here,” Donahue told the Times.
The sheriff also worried about what any returned criminals might do.
“We’re going to pay for this for some time, possibly for decades, and as law enforcement, we’re kind of that first line of defense out here,” Donahue said.
“These people are coming into the country without a thorough vetting process, and I don’t believe there is one being done thoroughly. We stand to have a whole bunch of law enforcement respond to tragic events, up to and including terrorist activity, on our soil.”
Jon Feere is a former chief of staff at Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He’s now with the Center for Immigration Studies, an immigration watchdog group. He too worried about the consequences of the sloppy vetting process.
“A lot of time and effort and taxpayer dollars have gone into removing dangerous individuals from our society. In one fell swoop, we’re simply going to return them to the U.S. without thinking ahead of the consequences,” Feere told the Times.
ICE had deported 210 criminals from the United States to Afghanistan between 2012 and the end of flights in late 2020.
“Were all of those deportations for naught?” Feere said. “Are we really going to bring every single one of them into the U.S. and have no plan to send them home again?”
The administration would argue the very fact we caught these individuals is proof that the system is working. However, of the roughly 45,000 Afghans who have made it to this country, The Washington Post reported on Sept. 10 that at least 28 that had made it to the United States were flagged as national security threats.
Some supposedly came over with child “brides” they had sexually assaulted. The Post had previously reported on allegations from those in the airlift that many of the evacuees had limited identification, making it potentially difficult to point out individuals who are a threat.
And what did this all accomplish? According to a Bloomberg report from earlier in the month, out of the 124,000 Afghans we evacuated during the mad rush out of Kabul, “a small percentage of the Afghan citizens who got out are the ones the U.S. pledged to place at the top of its priority list” and “many got out because they were part of the initial crush of people who made it to Kabul’s airport as the city fell to the Taliban or secured passage through airport gates thanks to luck or help from people in the U.S. or elsewhere.”
The Biden administration still maintains it wants to bring over 95,000 Afghan refugees by September 2022, according to The Associated Press. Given how it’s handling what it has now, expect stiff Republican opposition to that number.