Security fears may follow Afghan refugees heading to US as deadline looms for troop withdrawal

Afghan refugees
Posted at 6:23 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 18:24:56-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — As the deadline for the withdrawal of American troops in Afghanistan draws near, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is processing applications to resettle tens of thousands of Afghans in the United States.

"The terrorists that (we) fear are the same terrorists that the folks that are arriving are afraid of," said Susan Kragt of Bethany Christian Services, a global nonprofit that helps refugees with everything from housing to language training for refugees who are looking to settle in the U.S.

While Afghans coming to America will undergo extensive security vetting, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State said they are not releasing information on them or their travel plans for privacy and security reasons.

"We live in a digital age. And we know that the Taliban has access to anything we post or share or mention," Kragt said. "We want to be very careful about what we say."

"In light of increased levels of Taliban violence, the U.S. government is working to provide certain Afghans, including those who worked with the United States, the opportunity for refugee resettlement to the United States," reads a portion of information on a website for the State Department. "This designation expands the opportunity to permanently resettle in the United States to many thousands of Afghans and their immediate family members who may be at risk due to their U.S. affiliation but who are not eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) because they did not have qualifying employment, or because they have not met the time-in-service requirement to become eligible."

Refugees are expected to stop at military bases or third-party countries where they will undergo the extensive screening process before heading to resettlement organizations.

"These are refugees, many of whom are women and children, that need protection and that this is the way that we can take a stand against the Taliban and say no, these lives are precious and important," Kragt told 7 Action News.

Many of those seeking refuge in America have spent years assisting the U.S. military in Afghanistan in various ways including serving as translators.

Bethany Christian Services anticipates that they will primarily take in younger refugees who may need to be connected with relatives already living in the U.S. or youth in need of foster homes.

The goal of resettlement organizations is to provide a safe place for refugees to become "contributing members of society."