A group of 26 GOP senators, led by Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), demanded the Biden Administration provide the exact number of Americans left in Afghanistan and how they have been vetting a large number of evacuees.
“Our immediate priority is the safety and well-being of American citizens, permanent residents, and allies who were left behind in Afghanistan,” GOP senators said in an official letter (PDF below and Here) to President Joe Biden Thursday morning.
The senators said that signatories of the letter might have different 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.”
“Of the American citizens still in Afghanistan, how many are currently in contact with the State Department? … How many have expressed a desire to be repatriated to the United States?” the senators asked.
“How did the administration reach this estimate, and what steps is the administration taking to find and connect with Americans who may still be in Afghanistan but who are not in contact with the State Department?”
The 26 senators also asked similar questions about green card holders and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants. They asked what steps the Biden administration had taken to ensure SIV applicants’ safety while they remain in Afghanistan.
The State Department estimates that between 100 and 200 Americans are still in Afghanistan after the last U.S. military plane departed the airport in Kabul.
“We’re trying to determine exactly how many. We’re going through manifests and calling and texting through our lists, and we will have more details to share as soon as possible. Part of the challenge with fixing a precise number is that there are longtime residents of Afghanistan who have American passports and who are trying to determine whether or not they want to leave. Many are dual citizen Americans with deep roots and extended families in Afghanistan who resided there for many years. For many, it’s a painful choice,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday. “Our commitment to them and to all Americans in Afghanistan and everywhere in the world continues.”
By Li Hai