GOP lawmaker wants asylum for Canadian truckers but attacks Afghan refugees

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Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM) has not suggested anything but prayers for Ukrainians fleeing Russian invaders, either.

Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM) co-authored a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday raising concerns about the vetting of Afghan refugees, claiming that resettling those fleeing the Taliban could pose a security risk to the United States. The same day, she filed a bill to allow special refugee status for a lawless group of Canadian anti-vaccine truckers.

"Confirmed: dozens of Afghan evacuees deemed potentially dangerous to Americans have been allowed to slip away into our country by the Biden Administration," Herrell charged on social media on Friday. "I am proud to lead my colleagues in Congress demanding transparency, and to ensure this never happens again."

In their letter, Herrell, Rep. James Comer (R-KY), and other Republican members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee wrote that they were concerned about "lax vetting of Afghan evacuees."

They cited a recent report by the Defense Department inspector general examining the screening process used for displaced people coming from Afghanistan to note that, as of November, the National Ground Intelligence Center "had identified 50 Afghan personnel in the United States with information in DoD records that would indicate potentially significant security concerns."

That number represents a tiny fraction of the more than 76,000 Afghan people evacuated by President Joe Biden's administration since August, when the United States withdrew military forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban seized control.

"It is also likely that those evacuated from Afghanistan were not properly vetted," Herrell and her colleagues wrote. "We are particularly concerned that terrorists or other bad actors may seek to take advantage of our goodwill, exploiting any weakness in border security and vetting of foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States."

But while Herrell is very concerned about the less than 0.1% of Afghan refugees who may be deemed a security threat, she seems to have no such worries about the convoy of lawbreaking truckers from Canada.

Upset with Canada's COVID-19 safety rules — especially a requirement that unvaccinated truck drivers reentering the country from the United States quarantine for a few days — the self-proclaimed "Freedom Convoy" of Canadian truckers spent weeks protesting in the capital city of Ottawa and other cities across the country this month.

They used their trucks to intentionally obstruct highways, bridges, and border crossings. In Alberta, 11 protesters were arrested with a "cache of firearms with a large quantity of ammunition," apparently for a potential confrontation with law enforcement, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Elsewhere, the convoy damaged government vehicles, forced local businesses to close, imperiled the supply chain and economy, displayed Nazi flags, and danced on Canada's National War Memorial.

On Feb. 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked temporary powers under Canada's Emergencies Act to quell the protests by freezing the trucker's bank accounts.

An outraged Herrell blasted the move and announced on Feb. 19 that she would file a bill to treat the truckers as political refugees if they wanted to flee to the United States.

"Justin Trudeau's heavy-handed crackdown against peaceful protesters in Canada is not the action of a Western Democracy, but that of an authoritarian regime like Venezuela," she tweeted.

"Just as we provide asylum for political prisoners, we should do the same for truckers who have been subjected to violence, had their property confiscated, and their bank accounts frozen by a government that is quickly becoming the embarrassment of the free world," the first-term GOP representative added, urging temporary asylum for those "innocent Canadian protesters who are being persecuted by their own government."

A Herrell spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

As of Monday, not a single colleague from either party had signed on to co-sponsor Herrell's proposal "to provide for asylum or refugee status for certain Canadian nationals subject to harm by reason of the invocation of the Emergencies Act by the government of Canada."

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week, many advocates for refugees have called for the United States to open its doors to Ukrainians trying to escape those occupying their country.

Herrell on Friday instead urged, "Please join me in continuing to lift up the people of Ukraine in prayer!"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.