More than two dozen Republicans have submitted a letter to President Joe Biden, demanding that his administration reveal the exact number of green-card holders, Americans, and special immigrant visa applicants that the administration believes remain stranded in Afghanistan.
This demand comes after the hasty, chaotic troop withdrawal that was just completed.
Twenty-six senators said that their goal is to maintain the safety of Afghan allies and Americans who remain in Afghanistan, which the Taliban currently control.
The letter also slammed the Biden administration’s haphazard withdrawal.
“The signatories of this letter may have differing 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,” read the letter.
The senators, led by Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., have asked for the precise number of Americans and allies stranded in Afghanistan and information on how the administration is keeping in contact with those who are still trying to leave.
The last remaining American forces left Afghanistan at the end of August. This withdrawal marked the end of the U.S.’s longest war, which cost roughly $2 trillion, lasted 19 years and 47 weeks, and cost the lives of an estimated 240,000 Afghans and nearly 2,500 U.S. troops.
During the withdrawal of U.S. troops, the Taliban took control of the capital city of Kabul and the majority of the rest of Afghanistan. This takeover spurred thousands to flee the country.
American troops have helped to evacuate roughly 122,000 civilians on U.S. military aircraft since August 14. Despite the evacuation efforts, the Pentagon acknowledged that several hundred Americans remain trapped in Afghanistan.
The number of Afghan allies who assisted the U.S. and allied forces who remain in the country has not been acknowledged. There have been numerous reports of interpreters, guides, police, military, and government officials being murdered, beaten, or held hostage.
According to reports, an unidentified senior State Department official told NBC News that the “majority” of Afghans who worked with the U.S. government at various points during the war did not make it out of the country.
Various other allied countries also report citizens, family members, and permanent residents trapped in Afghanistan. Canada has said that approximately 1,200 Canadians are still in the country. Britain estimated between 800 to 1,100 Afghans who assisted the British forces and were eligible for evacuation did not make it out.
Germany also still has high numbers of local staff who could not leave, ranging between 10,000 and 40,000 people.
The letter sent by the Republican senators slammed the Biden administration for using vague language when referencing how many Americans remain in Afghanistan. “Americans need to see that the United States will not abandon them to terrorists abroad forever,” the letter said.
The letter also requested that the Biden administration provide specifics on the vetting of Afghan migrants who did not have special immigrant visas or qualify as green-card holders but were able to flee the country.
“By what criteria did your administration select these individuals for the airlift while leaving American citizens, green-card holders, and SIV applicants and their families behind?” they asked.
Questioned about concerns that some refugees coming to the U.S. are security risks, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated: “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.”