We should welcome Afghan refugees

Welcome to America! The far-right news media and politicians rightly excoriated the Biden administration for its botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. They lamented the abandonment of thousands of Afghans who supported our military for many years and could be targets of Taliban reprisals.

But now some of those same conservative commentators and politicians are questioning whether the United States should accept many of the thousands of Afghan refugees who did get out of the country. They’re turning Americans against the refugees by questioning how well they have been vetted and speculating that some of them might be terrorists.

Such rhetoric and thinking is most unfortunate. Certainly, all refugees should be carefully screened and their backgrounds reviewed. The State Department and other federal agencies have processes and procedures in place to do just that. They aren’t perfect, but certainly we can rely on them as we routinely do.

We should be welcoming the Afghan refugees and thanking them for their service. I’m glad Gov. Cox and most of the Utah community is doing so. These are people, and their families, who worked with the U.S. military and other agencies, whose lives are in danger if they stay in Afghanistan. Certainly, we can absorb them into America, and our country will be better for it.

I’m as critical as anyone of the way the Biden administration withdrew from Afghanistan. But you can’t criticize that disaster, and the fact that many U.S. citizens and deserving Afghanis were left behind, and then say we shouldn’t accept the refugees. 

I’m hearing far too much talk comparing Afghan refugees to the illegal immigrants besieging our southern border. There’s a big difference. Those coming in from Mexico are entering illegally. They are coming because we have a terribly broken immigration system that Congress refuses to fix, and also because of welcoming statements made by Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign.

The Afghan refugees are arriving in America legally, under programs specifically devised for them. Our attitude should be, “Welcome to America.”