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Afghan evacuee vetting process ‘fragmented’ with ‘vulnerabilities,’ watchdog warns

A report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general finds problems with the government’s parole process for resettling tens of thousands of displaced Afghans after a failed withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“DHS has a multifaceted but piecemeal process for identifying and resolving non-citizen issues related to derogatory information, including: [Operation Allies Welcome] Parolee. “This siled approach creates potential gaps in the Department of Homeland Security’s responsibilities for terminating parole, initiating removal proceedings, and monitoring parole deadlines,” the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General said. [OIG] the report says.

Of the 97,000 evacuees who sought refuge in the United States after the Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan, 79 percent (approximately 77,000 people) were granted two-year humanitarian parole in the United States. Parole is a power granted by Congress that allows the government to admit foreign nationals for urgent humanitarian reasons or in the vital public interest.

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Foreigners board a Qatar Airways flight at Kabul airport, Afghanistan, on September 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Bernat Armang)

During their parole process, Afghans are screened, scrutinized, and tested by federal agencies to review derogatory information, such as national security concerns or criminal convictions, that could ultimately lead to parole denial. Included.

However, the report Three major divisions of the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), “identify adverse information against OAW parolees and It turns out that they have separate but interconnected processes for resolving them.

“We discovered vulnerabilities in USCIS and ICE procedures for processing adverse information,” the report states.

Specifically, we found enforcement gaps when parolees are denied benefits, revealing that failure to receive benefits does not lead to removal proceedings. We also found inconsistent standards across agencies, which could result in different standards of action when enforcement priorities change.

afghan refugee

Following the withdrawal, nearly 100,000 Afghans were brought to the United States. (Greg Palcott)

It also found that the “complicated” process for returning OAW parolees to Afghanistan relies on third countries. Without the cooperation of that country, the United Arab Emirates, its ability to deport Afghans would be at risk and “could cause significant delays to an already complex process.”

Additionally, the OIG found that DHS has no process for monitoring the expiration of two-year parole periods and that guidelines for determining whether a parolee should be “re-paroled” are “undefined.”

“CBP, USCIS, and ICE officials uniformly believed this was not their responsibility,” the report said.

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“While CBP granted humanitarian parole to evacuees during OAW, CBP officials have stated that once OAW evacuees are paroled, USCIS and ICE will monitor the parole status of individual parolees. “Both USCIS and ICE officials confirmed that they do not monitor parolees; parole for individual OAW parolees is terminated,” the report said.

OIG recommended that USCIS develop guidelines for parole termination and referral to ICE. Other recommendations include a record review, clarifying DHS’s responsibility for her parole reauthorization, and guidelines on how to handle derogatory information.

In response to the report, DHS agreed with the recommendations but defended its approach to resettling Afghans.

“In this unprecedented whole-of-government effort, the U.S. government prioritized preserving U.S. national security and public safety while facilitating the relocation of Afghans whose lives are at risk,” the statement said. Ta.

However, the OIG said the report “contains information that does not adequately describe the department’s policies and processes for identifying and resolving derogatory information” against parolees.

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The report cited deficiencies in the report, including that the USCIS manual already includes guidelines for parole termination and that DHS already has access to information about parole expirations.

This is the latest report to raise questions about the vetting process. Department of Defense Inspector General Report Published in 2022 Officials have identified at least 50 Afghan refugees who were brought to the United States following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the information raised “potentially significant security concerns,” but: It turned out that dozens of people who allegedly had such derogatory information could not be located. They will not be eligible for parole.

FOX News’ Bill Melgin contributed to this report.

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