Sen. Tom Cotton demands info on Americans left in Afghanistan

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Sen. Tom Cotton demands info on Americans left in Afghanistan

More than two dozen Republican lawmakers are demanding President Biden reveal the specific number of Americans, green-card holders and special immigrant visa applicants the administration believes remain stranded in Afghanistan following the chaotic troop withdrawal that completed this week. 

In a letter signed Thursday, the 26 Republican senators expressed their goal of maintaining the safety of Americans and Afghan allies remaining in the Taliban-controlled country, while slamming the Biden administration’s withdrawal efforts. 

“The signatories of this letter may have differing opinions about whether the United States should have maintained a military presence in Afghanistan, but we all agree that the arbitrary and poorly-planned method by which you withdrew from Afghanistan caused this crisis,” the letter read.

Led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), the senators have asked for the precise number of Americans, green-card holders and special immigrant visa applicants still in Afghanistan as well as information on how the administration is keeping in contact with those who wish to get out. 

According to a top official at the State Department, a “majority” of Afghans who worked with the US government didn’t make it out.
According to a top official at the State Department, a “majority” of Afghans who worked with the US government didn’t make it out.
HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP via Getty Images
26 Republican senators signed the letter expressing their goal of maintaining the safety of Americans and Afghan allies.
26 Republican senators signed the letter expressing their goal of maintaining the safety of Americans and Afghan allies.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The last US forces left Afghanistan at the end of August, marking the end of America’s longest war that lasted 19 years and 47 weeks, costing some $2 trillion and took the lives of nearly 2,500 US troops and about 240,000 Afghans.

Amid the troop withdrawal, the Taliban took over the capital city of Kabul and much of Afghanistan, prompting thousands to flee the country. 

US troops helped evacuate 122,000 civilians on US military aircraft since Aug. 14.

Sen. Tom Cotton and several other Republican senators sent a letter demanding that President Biden release the precise number of American allies still in Afghanistan.
Sen. Tom Cotton and several other Republican senators sent a letter demanding that President Biden release the precise number of American allies still in Afghanistan.
Tom Williams/Pool via REUTERS
Thousands of citizens of other Western countries and their Afghan allies also remain stranded.
Thousands of citizens of other Western countries and their Afghan allies also remain stranded.
EPA/STRINGER

Despite the efforts to evacuate all Americans from the country, several hundred Americans remain in the embattled country following the withdrawal, according to the Pentagon.

On Wednesday, a senior State Department official reportedly told NBC News that the “majority” of Afghans who worked with the US government throughout the war in Afghanistan didn’t make it out. 

Thousands of citizens of other Western countries and their Afghan allies also remain stranded.

Republicans have also asked Biden to provide proof that the refugees are being vetted and no one dangerous is being let into the US.
Republicans have also asked Biden to provide proof that the refugees are being vetted and no one dangerous is being let into the US.
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Canada has estimated roughly 1,250 Canadian citizens, permanent residents or family members remain in the country, while Britain has estimated around 800 to 1,100 Afghans who worked with the British and were eligible for evacuation could not make it out.

Meanwhile, Germany announced on Tuesday that there are between 10,000 and 40,000 local staff working in Afghanistan that are unable to be evacuated to the European country.

Throughout the evacuation process, the Biden administration was slammed for using vague language when it came to how many Americans remained in the country, and that trend seems to continue following the complete withdrawal. 

Ambassador Ross Wilson (Center) holding a US flag and poses with members of the US Embassy in Kabul before they depart Afghanistan.
Ambassador Ross Wilson (Center) holding a US flag and poses with members of the US Embassy in Kabul before they depart Afghanistan.
US State Department/AFP via Gett

“Americans need to see that the United States will not abandon them to terrorists abroad forever,” the senators wrote.

Among their requests, the Republican lawmakers asked Biden to provide information on the vetting of Afghan migrants who do not qualify as green-card holders or have special immigrant visas. 

“By what criteria did your administration select these individuals for the airlift while leaving American citizens, green-card holders, and SIV applicants and their families behind?” they asked, while later questioning the vetting process of such individuals prior to their entry to the US. 

Biden has been previously slammed by Republicans for using vague language when it came to the evacuation numbers.
Biden has been previously slammed by Republicans for using vague language when it came to the evacuation numbers.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the concern of some refugees coming to the US being deemed security risks

“I can absolutely assure you that no one is coming into the United States of America who has not been through a thorough screening and background check process,” she said. 

The senators have asked for Biden to provide them with the information by 5 p.m. Sept. 7. 

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