GOP lawmaker claims Biden had 'no plan' for Afghan refugees — but it was announced in July


Rep. French Hill voted with a House majority to expedite the processing of refugees in July.

In an appearance on Fox Business' "Mornings with Maria" on Thursday, Rep. French Hill (R-AR) claimed that the Biden administration had no plan in place for housing Afghan refugees in the United States and elsewhere and had only been dealing with the issue in "the last two weeks."

But the Biden administration announced its plans to handle incoming refugees in July.

Hill said:

Everyone leaving Afghanistan that was not an American citizen was going to one of nine intermediate places around the world, Italy, Germany, other places, to be fully vetted by a consular officer of the United States. And that was done in a slapdash manner — I don't believe they even had a plan for that. ... And it's clear now they didn't have a plan in America for the possible refugee holding places. There was no plan for this. Our bases were being called just in real time in the last two weeks. "Hey, do you think this would work? Could we move people to your base?" So after all these months of planning to withdraw from Afghanistan, this is another place where Congress has to demand accountability on the Biden's [sic] failed withdrawal.

The claim is false. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby publicly announced Operation Allies Refuge, the program for relocating "brave Afghan nationals [who] lent assistance to the military operations led by American service personnel," on July 14.

Kirby told reporters, "The department's role in Operation Allies Refuge will continue to be one of providing options and support to the interagency effort that's being led by the State Department. To date, we have identified overseas locations and we're still examining possibilities for overseas locations, to include some departmental installations that would be capable of supporting planned relocation efforts with appropriate temporary residences and associated support infrastructure."

The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan noted the launch of the program in a July 17 press release.

A few days after the initiative was announced, the House of Representatives voted on related legislation, the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act of 2021, that loosened or removed existing requirements for eligible people seeking to get out of Afghanistan.

Rep. Hill voted with the bipartisan majority in the House in favor of the bill, which passed 407-16.

On July 30, in a statement marking the first flight under Operation Allies Refuge, President Joe Biden said, "I want to thank the diplomats and public servants across our government and around the world who are working tirelessly as part of Operation Allies Refuge."

Already over 25,000 Afghans had arrived in the United States by the beginning of September under the program and were being housed at eight military bases.

On Sep. 3, the commander of the U.S. Northern Command, Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, told reporters that the program would be expanded to house 50,000 refugees.

Congressional Republicans have continued to lash out at the decision to assist refugees, while at the same time complaining that the Biden administration has not helped enough Americans who were in Afghanistan.

On Aug. 30, the Pentagon announced that over 123,000 civilians had been taken out of Afghanistan by the U.S. government and its international partners.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.