In an attempt to make the collapse of Afghanistan a new opportunity to push hard-line immigration policies, former officials have been writing position papers and appearing on conservative television stations.
Stephen Miller, who was the architect of Donald Trump's most conservative immigration policy and is also a participant in the debate said that "it is a collaboration built on mutual conviction." "My focus has been on talking with members of Congress to gain support for opposing the overall refugee plan by the Biden administration."
Some Republican leaders aren't comfortable with the approach. They call it mean-spirited, and they feel that it is at odds with Christian teachings. This is especially true for white evangelicals, who play an important role in the party’s base. This strategy uses tactics that were popular during Trump's tenure, and which turned off many voters. These include racist tropes and fear-mongering, as well as false allegations.
Hardliners don't pay much attention to Afghanistan's human reality. Those who fought alongside the Americans in the war want to flee from the Taliban regime.
The Republicans pushing this issue believe they can open a new front to the culture wars that they have been fighting ever since President Joe Biden was elected. They combine the anti-immigrant sentiments that helped fuel Trump’s rise in politics with widespread dissatisfaction about the Afghan withdrawal. They hope this will keep GOP voters motivated as they head into the midterms next year, when control over Congress is at stake.
Russ Vought (Trump's former budget chief) said that cultural issues are most important to the American people. He is also the president of Center for Renewing America. This non-profit group has been working to build opposition against Afghan refugee settlements in the U.S. and other hot-button topics like critical race theory which examines American history through the lense of racism.
He said that his group was working to "kinda punch through the unanimity that has been existing" to ensure that the withdrawal was chaotic but that Afghan refugees are entitled to travel to the U.S.
Officials insist that all Afghans who travel to the United States must undergo extensive screening that includes biometric and biographic screenings by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism personnel. This week's Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that these "rigorous security screenings" begin in transit countries and end at U.S. military bases prior to anyone being resettled. As refugees wait for further processing, checks continue.
Trump and his associates insist that refugees are a threat. They worked hard to close refugee admissions while in office.
Trump recently asked, "Who are all the people entering our Country?" "How many terrorists are there?"
It's not clear whether voters will make immigration a top priority next year, with the United States facing a number of problems. According to AP VoteCast data, it was a major motivator for voters during the 2018 midterm elections. 4 out 10 Republicans identified it as the most pressing issue facing the country. It became less important two years later when it was ranked as the No.1 issue by only 3% of 2020 voters, including 5% of Republicans. The COVID-19 pandemic, and other economic woes, was the nation's number one issue.
According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 68% Americans support the U.S. accepting refugees after they have been screened. This includes 56% of Republicans.
The leaders of the party are far from unison. Numerous Republican legislators and their offices have worked tirelessly to help Afghans flee the country. Some, such as Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C. ), have warned those in his party that suggested Afghans could pose a security threat.
The Biden administration has refused to date provide an accounting of Afghans who were able to flee Afghanistan's chaotic evacuation from Kabul's Airport. This is a factor that contributed to some of the skepticism expressed by the right.
According to the State Department, more than 238,000 Afghans arrived in America between August 17 and 31. Many more are still at U.S. military bases overseas to undergo screening and processing. Officials have stated that they are still compiling the breakdown of who are applicants for the Special Immigrant visa program to assist Afghan interpreters and other service personnel, as well as how many are classified as "Afghans at Risk" such journalists, human rights workers, or other categories.
War Time Allies estimates that there are as many as 20,000 special Visa applicants still in the country. This does not include their families or other eligible individuals who can travel to the U.S.
Ken Cuccinelli was Trump's acting deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. He is now a senior fellow at The Center for Renewing America and doesn't believe that refugees have been given sufficient review.
He said that the process was impossible to achieve as an administrative matter. Miller and Cuccinelli agree that SIVs should be allowed into the U.S. but he believes that other refugees should be relocated closer to home.
He wrote that the "massimulation of potentially hundreds of thousand of people who don't share American cultural, politically, or ideological commonalities poses grave risks to both national security" in a recent paper. The paper cites Pew Research Center polling about beliefs about Sharia and suicide bombings.
Others from the past administration strongly disagree with this inflammatory language.
"Some people who have always been hardliners on immigration are now seeing this as an opportunity ahead the midterms to, for lack of a better word, stoke fear that, 'I don’t want these people in our country'," said Alyssa Faray, who was also the White House communications director.
Farah stated that she is working to "politely change Republican sentiment" away form arguments she considers both politically and factually incorrect. She noted that the Republican Party includes a majority veterans, many of whom have worked alongside Afghans on ground and helped their former colleagues escape. They also include evangelical Christians who have traditionally welcomed refugees with open arms.