Although Republicans have been quick to level criticism of the Biden administration in its withdrawal from Afghanistan, it’s been pretty clear from the beginning that the abruptness is due in part because of an agreement made with the state department under the previous administration that all but laid out terms of surrender to the Taliban. It turns out now, however, the problem was even worse than what we suspected.
While the situation was made worse under the catastrophic Trump presidency, Republicans began actively chipping away at America’s special immigrant visa (SIV) program – the one used to welcome Afghan interpreters to the United States well before Donald Trump decided to run for president by adding restrictions that would make a backlog of applications inevitable. When President Obama sought to raise the refugee cap in 2016, Congress blocked his efforts. When the Trump administration took over, the cap was lowered even more, as White House advisor Stephen Miller managed to reduce the number of refugees being admitted to the United States by one-third in just 2019 alone.
All of this is to suggest that while Republicans are the first to lament the failure to get enough Afghans to safety from the Taliban, they’re hardly in a hurry to welcome them to the United States, with Miller himself using white nationalist talking points about the rescue to be one big replacement plot against the people he feels should be permitted to live in America. This is yet another reason that the GOP, one that’s as openly bigoted and xenophobic as ever, should not be trusted with levers of power again – even when they promise to work for bipartisan solutions on things like helping displaced Afghan refugees. President Biden’s administration raised the refugee cap back in May to help make this possible, while Republicans will gleefully scale it back at the first opportunity.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making