White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that “no one” is coming into the U.S. without a thorough background check amid terrorism concerns following the evacuation of more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan in the final weeks of the U.S. military withdrawal.
“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,” Psaki said during her daily press briefing.
The press secretary said the individuals who have not yet passed the screening have been sent to third countries, like Qatar and Germany, while their paperwork is being processed.
“There are many individuals, as you noted, who have not been through that process,” she said. “And they have gone to lilypad countries as that process has been completed. It doesn’t mean that that’s because there is a flag. It means they have not completed their paperwork. And we were working to save tens of thousands of people. Hence we evacuated them to these third countries.”
Psaki’s comments follow concerns by some politicians who worry the vetting process was hastened during the massive U.S. evacuation effort out of Kabul, which ended Monday.
Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Wis., discussed his recent trip to Fort McCoy, an Army installation in central Wisconsin, in a Fox News appearance Monday, where he sounded the alarm over insufficient security on the Wisconsin military base that currently houses thousands of Afghan refugees.
Tiffany said he was stunned to find that none of the refugees he encountered entered the country on a Special Immigration Visa (SIV), which requires a thorough vetting process that can take up to two years.
“They were all there on parole,” Tiffany said. “The parole authority is granted to the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He can just wave people in,” Tiffany said, charging the administration with “circumventing the SIV process.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants continue to pour over the U.S. southern border every month. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced in mid-August that 212,672 migrants were encountered at the southern border in July, a 13% increase over the already massive 188,000 migrant encounters in June. In July 2020, there were just 40,929 encounters.
Mayorkas emphasized at the time that 95,788 of those 212,000 encounters resulted in expulsions under Title 42 public health protections. However, that number is lower than in June, when 104,907 migrants were removed under Title 42. He also said that 27% of those encountered had at least one prior encounter in the past 12 months.
Adam Shaw and Yael Halon contributed reporting.