Tom Cotton slams US military effort to help Afghan refugees

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Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) compared service members working to help Afghan refugees to 'daycare operators' and said they 'should be training' instead.

In a Tuesday appearance on Fox News, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) slammed the U.S. military's effort to help Afghan refugees, complaining that service members are being used as "nannies and babysitters and daycare operators" while they "should be" focusing on military training.

In mid-July, the Department of Defense announced Operation Allies Refuge, an effort "to support the relocations of interested and eligible Afghan nationals and their immediate families who supported the U.S. Government and applied for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)."

The department said at the end of August that it was approved to help up to 50,000 people as part of that mission, "providing essential support at secure locations, where these Afghan citizens and their families can safely complete the necessary steps for residing in the United States."

Conservatives began attacking the operation as reports surfaced this weekend that military bases were preparing for thousands of refugees.

"I've been to the border earlier this year. We saw Border Patrol officers who signed up to be law enforcement actually having to work as nannies and babysitters and daycare operators, watching out for all of the children who are showing up at the border," Cotton said, prompted by "Fox & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade, who expressed opposition to the ongoing effort to help refugees. "Now we're impressing soldiers into doing the same thing, when you're right, they should be training."

Cotton also implied that the mission to help refugees is harming U.S. military preparedness. "They should be focusing on the mission of deterring our adversaries, to say nothing of the billions of dollars this is going to cost American taxpayers," he said.

But Cotton and other Republicans have simultaneously criticized Biden for not evacuating enough people. On Thursday, Cotton and other GOP senators sent a letter to the administration demanding accountability for those left behind in Afghanistan, noting, "Our immediate priority is the safety and well-being of American citizens, permanent residents, and allies who were left behind in Afghanistan."

They have also in recent days sought to frame Afghan refugees as potentially dangerous terrorist threats. However, several federal-level and local fficials have confirmed that refugees seeking resettlement in the United States will undergo background checks as well as health screenings.

American military bases have been used as temporary housing for refugees at several points in history. They were used to house anti-communist refugees from Hungary during the Cold War, as well as for over 100,000 Vietnamese who fled Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War.

Members of the military have expressed their support for the current mission.

"It's an opportunity to make a difference in a situation where it really is necessary: working directly with displaced nationals, helping them settle, and keeping them safe," Lt. Col. Lisa Weaver of the Washington National Guard told the Army's official online publication.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.