EXCLUSIVE: Meeks said that the White House needs to let the Taliban know the U.S. Military is not leaving Afghanistan until all Americans, and those who have supported its causes, are out of the country.
Evacuating people out of Afghanistan has risen to the top of President Joe Biden’s agenda, but the logistics of the relocation operation can be described as disjointed at best.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the U.S. military’s ongoing evacuation efforts in Afghanistan as he is joined by (L-R) U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken (obscured), and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan from the East Room of the White House on August 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
President Biden from the East Room of the White House on Friday said, “Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home,” and set the deadline for their return by Aug. 31. The president gave a caveat that the administration will make determinations if the deadline will stick as the date approaches.
But House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, tells theGrio, “That ain’t happening.” Especially as the administration does not have a handle on accurate numbers that detail how many Americans still remain in Afghanistan.
Part of the problem stems from Americans who register with the American Embassy in Afghanistan when they arrive in the country and then sometimes leave without any notification to that same embassy.
Meeks said that the White House needs to let the Taliban know the United States Military is not leaving Afghanistan until all Americans, and those who have supported the United States’ causes, are out of the country.
Representative Gregory Meeks, (D-NY), and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, speaks during a hearing March 10, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ting Shen-Pool/Getty Images)
“It’s imperative that we provide for the most vulnerable Afghans, especially those who fought alongside our military, and worked with our diplomats and development professionals in support of our shared objectives in their country,” Meeks explained. “The Biden administration has broad statutory power to cut through any unnecessary red tape and immediately parole Afghans who qualify for special immigrant visas into the country and they should exercise that authority.”
As evacuations are underway, the question remains as to how will the Afghan people who supported our war efforts be processed for their safe stay in the United States. Just months ago, during a trip to Latin America, Vice President Kamala Harris told asylum seekers of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador “do not come” to the United States-Mexico border. At the same time, political turmoil and a recent natural disaster in Haiti could also yield more refugees on U.S. shores.
Black veterans who are exclusively talking with theGrio expressed their concerns regarding the migration flowing to the U.S. and the role America has played in creating the environments that asylum seekers are fleeing.
“There’s a cross between what we saw with our brown brothers and sisters who were coming into the United States seeking asylum, as well as those who are coming from the Middle East, Southwest Asia, who are seeking asylum,” said U.S. Navy Veteran Tashandra Poullard. “We’ve had our hand in both things because we tried to control governments. We tried to come in and insert our ideas of democracy into these regions. And it unstabilized these regions.”
United States Army 101st Airborne Division E4 Bobby (R), last name witheld, looks on with other Army members on the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 15, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
“Now these people are suffering and need a place to go,” she added. “As the leaders of the free world, we have to accept these people into our country because we always talk about ‘give us your poor and your tired.’ So how can we say these things that are etched upon the Statue of Liberty, but then not mean it when it comes to people of color?”
Congressman Meeks also weighed in on the expected flow of Haitian migrants during this frantic period of multiple crises.
“The first priority must be to immediately stop all deportations to Haiti and ensure there are no additional deportation flights to Haiti during this period of extreme instability throughout the country,” said Chairman Meeks. “It is precisely during these times of crisis, that we need important programs like TPS which I and others have strongly advocated to extend. At the same time, I will continue to work with the people of Haiti and the Biden administration to lay the groundwork for a stable, secure, and prosperous Haiti.”
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