House Republicans on Tuesday subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security for information about Afghan refugees as intelligence officials warn of increased threats of a terrorist attack in the United States.
The Biden administration has stonewalled congressional inquiries into security screenings of the almost 90,000 Afghan refugees who have entered the United States since 2021, Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee say in a Tuesday letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
"In the wake of the Biden administration’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the country has once again become a breeding ground for foreign terrorist organizations under Taliban rule," Homeland Security Committee chairman Mark Green (R., Tenn.) said in a statement. "The Committee is still seeking answers on how the Biden administration vetted those entering the United States following the withdrawal."
The Homeland Security Committee’s inquiry comes as intelligence officials warn that recent Hamas attacks could inspire other Islamic extremists to plan attacks. FBI director Christopher Wray testified to the House on Tuesday that "the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level."
Republicans initially asked the Department of Homeland Security for a full accounting of the Afghan refugee vetting process in 2021. Since then, Green said, those requests "were met with insufficient responses from the Biden administration."
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.
Republicans have long contested that the Biden administration had no protocol to vet the Afghan nationals who were granted refugee status following the United States’ botched withdrawal from the country. Many of the Afghans granted entry to the country, internal government communications show, did not own a passport when they landed in the United States.
In response to repeated requests from congressional Republicans, the Biden administration has turned over reports with 150 pages of redactions and other edits. Other data provided by the Biden administration, Green says, were "nothing more than scanned printouts from spreadsheets of data that were provided in a format that rendered them indecipherable."
Republicans are now using their legal authority to get a full picture on how those Afghan refugees were admitted. The subpoena covers all communications for more than a dozen agencies related to the vetting of Afghan refugees. The Department of Homeland Security has until Nov. 7 to comply.
Biden administration officials informed lawmakers in a classified December 2021 briefing that "not all security and vetting measures have been taken to ensure the safety of our homeland."
Since the United States exited Afghanistan, the Taliban has taken full control of the country.