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No Fort McCoy Afghan Refugees Had Special Immigration Visas: Congressman

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“So, we’ve seen the debacle in Afghanistan. It appears the Biden administration is going to double down on it by bringing people who are unvetted into our country,” – U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany

U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany says that, of the approximately 2,000 evacuees from Afghanistan at Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy when he visited recently, “none of them were there on a special immigration visas.” He claimed that the Fort McCoy Afghan refugees are not properly vetted.

He also says that the Afghan refugees are allowed to leave the base unsupervised “including without the authority of the general.” (Note: Since Tiffany’s comments on Aug. 31, the number of Afghan refugees has ballooned to 8,000. It’s not clear how many of the new refugees have SIVs.)

Those SIVs, explained Tiffany, are visas that involve a “thorough vetting process that can take up to two years to find out if a person should be coming to the United States.” Tiffany made the comments on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox News on Aug. 31, 2021.

“I was at Fort McCoy last Friday where there are 2,000 evacuees from Afghanistan; what we found out is none of them were there on a special immigration visa. They were all there on parole,” Tiffany said in the interview.

According to Tiffany, parole authority is “granted to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and he can just waive people in. The Biden administration has circumvented the SIV process, and they’re just bringing people on parole.”

Tiffany, the 7th district Congressman in Wisconsin and a Republican, added: “So, we’ve seen the debacle in Afghanistan. It appears the Biden administration is going to double down on it by bringing people who are unvetted into our country.”

Fort McCoy is a United States Army installation housed on 60,000 acres. It’s located between Sparta and Tomah, Wisconsin, in Monroe County.

Tiffany stressed that he believes some Afghan refugees “should be able to come into our country.”

“I’ve talked to servicemen in my county who said there are people who should be able to come from Afghanistan because they’ve, some of them have given almost their lives, being threatened by the Taliban. They should be able to come to the US. However, these people are not being vetted thoroughly,” said the congressman.

He believes they “should go to a safe third country, Qatar somewhere like that, and be vetted there. If they get through the vetting, they should be able to come in.”

According to Tiffany, SIV visas are hard to get. In the first quarter of the year, 84 percent of the people who tried to get one in Afghanistan were rejected.

“There has to be a thorough vetting process,” he said. “The Biden administration is circumventing it.”

An employee at Fort McCoy, who needed to stay anonymous, described what it’s like there with the Fort McCoy Afghan refugees on site. “Yeah, they are allowed to roam around, they aren’t POW’s. They are allowed access to PX, Gym, Commissary, etc. Most have cell phones already that they got new cards for, so they are “online”. And yes, it’s going to look a bit different for people who haven’t been overseas. They are hanging their laundry wherever they can. Most have never used a washer/dryer, so it’s foreign to them. There’s kids playing soccer, males walking around and sitting in tea circles, women doing womenfolk stuff. I wouldn’t say it looks like a Afghani village, just a bunch of barracks filled with Afghani families.”

The White House Hasn’t Said How Many Fort McCoy Afghan Refugees Have SIVs

That counters what senior administration officials in the Biden White House said on August 24, when they claimed, “The focus today is on one particular part of this really massive global effort: It’s to offer you all a brief sense of the administration’s plans to relocate Afghans at-risk to the United States. That includes our Defense Department is using a number of military bases around the country to temporarily house SIV — Special Immigrant Visa — applicants and other vulnerable Afghans.”

They added, “That process involves biometric and biographic security screenings conducted by our intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals who are working quite literally around the clock to vet all of these Afghans before they’re allowed into the United States.”

The White House described SIV applicants as “our Afghan allies who bravely worked with U.S. service members as translators and in other roles, who stood with us side by side, who risked their lives to help us, and who were far enough along in their SIV application process that we are bringing them here.” They acknowledged there was another category: “other vulnerable Afghans that we have identified.” The White House did not specify how many of the refugees have SIVs, saying the numbers are “fluid.” They said the refugees are tested for Covid. Eventually, they will “begin and settle into new lives in America.”

The White House noted, “But as we now obviously accelerate further this work, given the developments on the ground, there are a range of things being used. For those who can reach that full SIV status, obviously that gives them the visa that the program was designed to provide. In other instances, the Secretary of Homeland Security is using his parole authority, including his ability to impose particular conditions of parole on those arriving to ensure that those who are reaching here are doing so, obviously with appropriate legal status.”


Fort McCoy Has Been Releasing Information on How to Help the Fort McCoy Afghan Refugees

Fort McCoy has released little information about the Fort McCoy Afghan refugees, but has released information about how to help them.

On Sept. 1, Fort McCoy wrote, “There has been an outpouring of support asking for ways to help the Afghan evacuees at Fort McCoy. In response to such requests, we are providing contact information for agencies offering support. The Department of Defense, Task Force McCoy and USAG Fort McCoy do not endorse these organizations or any other non-federal entity.”

Fort McCoy continued, “Team Rubicon, a national non-profit will create the means to harness volunteers and donors into areas that will make the greatest impact. Currently, Team Rubicon is only accepting NEW item donations. Anyone interested in supporting Team Rubicon, should email: [email protected] to request their most recent list of new item needs. No used items will be accepted by Team Rubicon.”

They added: “Gently used clothing and other items can be donated at a local Goodwill in your region. When items are needed, Team Rubicon or Red Cross will reach out to Goodwill for specific items, which Goodwill sources from their inventory, cleans it and sends to Fort McCoy. Fort McCoy has more than a dozen nongovernmental organizations combining forces with the Department of State, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Defense, and the State of Wisconsin.”

They continued, “Along with the American Red Cross and Team Rubicon, the International Rescue Committee and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are members of the Fort McCoy interagency team. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse Wisconsin has also launched a local campaign to provide Afghanistan refuge assistance https://cclse.org/afghanistan-refugee-assistance. They are accepting donations at 3710 East Avenue South in La Crosse and also have a gift registry set up through Amazon Smile and Target where donors can purchase needed items and have them shipped directly to Catholic Charities.”

They gave these links:
Team Rubicon
Goodwill Industries International
American Red Cross
International Rescue Committee
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse

Fort McCoy added, “We will update information on these and other volunteer and donation opportunities as they become available. Again, thank you for your continued efforts as we band together — military and civilian — to share the hope of a new start to those in need.”