When the United States withdrew its military forces from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, it evacuated more than 79,000 Afghan nationals and brought them to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) paroled approximately 72,550 of them into the United States; the rest included U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and migrant with valid nonimmigrant visas.

Homeland Security’s Inspector General (IG) conducted an audit to determine the extent to which DHS screened, vetted, and inspected the Afghan evacuees. He issued a report on Sept. 6, in which he concludes that there is an “urgent need to take action to address security risks of evacuees from Afghanistan who were admitted or paroled into the country without sufficient identification documents to ensure proper screening and vetting.”

He made two recommendations for meeting this need; DHS rejected both of them.

Lily pads

The evacuees were taken from Afghanistan to facilities in other countries known as “lily pads,” where they were screened and vetted. Individuals with a match to derogatory information in government data banks were given “red status,” which meant they were not cleared for travel to the United States.

Difficulties

Some individuals in Afghanistan have only one name, and the evacuees did not always know their date of birth. If an evacuee said that he was 20 years old and didn’t know his date of birth, DHS usually recorded it as “January 1.”

One DHS official said that when an evacuee didn’t have a verification document to cross-check against, DHSsimply entered the evacuee’s biographic information as told by the individual.

The IG found missing, incomplete, or inaccurate first and last names, birth dates, travel document numbers, travel document types, and visa data in many of the evacuee records.
  • 417 records did not have a first name;
  • 242 did not have a last name;
  • 11,110 had the date of birth recorded as “January 1;”
  • 36,400 had “facilitation document” as the document type, and CBP did not provide an explanation for this document type; and
  • 7,800 had invalid or missing document numbers.

This made reliable vetting difficult; nevertheless, CBP officers were permitted to parole evacuees into the country without proper identification documents if vetting did not uncover derogatory information about them.

Read more at https://thehill.com/opinion/immigrat...uthern-border/

Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at https://www.blogger.com/blog/posts/2306123393080132994