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Pentagon IG To Review Afghan Refugee Screening Process

Influx of refugees has precipitated domestic crises for Biden admin

DULLES, VIRGINIA - AUGUST 31: Refugees walk through the departure terminal to a bus at Dulles International Airport after being evacuated from Kabul following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on August 31, 2021 in Dulles, Virginia. The Department of Defense announced yesterday that the U.S. military had completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending 20 years of war. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
• September 10, 2021 2:50 pm

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The Defense Department's inspector general will review the Pentagon's screening process for Afghan refugees following the Biden administration's bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The inspector general's report will assess managing and tracking tens of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan as they make their way to the United States. It will also evaluate the use of biometrics as well as the screening and vetting process for refugees, according to Bloomberg. The announcement follows the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in August, which left behind a majority of Afghan allies, many of whom served as interpreters during the decades-long conflict in the nation. The hasty evacuation effort by the Biden administration has precipitated domestic crises as well, as U.S. officials struggle to effectively screen and vet the influx of Afghan refugees.

U.S. officials have abandoned some immigration protocols to deal with the influx. Most Afghan refugees—about 50,000—will be let into the United States via parole, an immigration exemption that will allow them to live in the nation for up to two years without a visa. The rapid uptick of refugees has in some instances threatened national security. U.S. officials have identified Afghan men trafficking girls into the country as "child brides," according to the Associated Press.

The United States evacuated more than 65,000 refugees from Afghanistan before the Biden administration's deadline of Aug. 31. About a third of them have arrived in America, while the rest are scattered across Europe and Asia. But the majority of Afghan special immigrant visa applicants did not safely exit Afghanistan before the last U.S. flight left, according to the State Department. Some have had to go to incredible lengths to make their way out of the war-torn nation, even with considerable U.S. assistance.

The withdrawal has also complicated the Biden administration's efforts to battle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The State Department told the Washington Free Beacon on Sept. 3 that Afghan refugees did not receive COVID tests before departing Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Refugees did receive tests upon arrival in the United States, but a State Department spokeswoman did not specify whether quarantine measures were in place for those who tested positive. A DHS spokesman said all refugees are offered the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine upon arrival, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Most refugees are being flown into Washington Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., or Philadelphia International Airport before disembarking to U.S. military bases or the homes of family members.