Republicans struggle for a unified message on the Afghan refugee crisis: report

Republicans struggle for a unified message on the Afghan refugee crisis: report

With the Taliban now in control of Afghanistan, some Republicans — especially those of the MAGA variety — have been stressing that they don't want Afghan refugees moving to the United States, while more traditional conservatives are saying that the U.S. should welcome Afghans who helped U.S. forces during the 20-year Afghan War. That disconnect between anti-refugee and more pro-refugee Republicans is the focus of an article published by Politico on September 22.

Politico reporters Olivia Beavers and Andrew Desiderio explain, "The Donald Trump-inspired right flank of the party is veering toward an anti-refugee message with nativist undertones, warning that assistance to Afghans fleeing their nation's fall to the Taliban risks an influx of unvetted new arrivals. And the political oxygen that small but vocal number of Republicans consume is overshadowing colleagues with a more nuanced take on the impending refugee crisis."

Some of the more Trumpian and nativist rhetoric on Afghan refugees has been coming from Rep. Matt Rosendale. The Montana Republican recently tweeted, "I have advocated that we should try and settle these individuals in other countries around Afghanistan that share their values and culture, especially if we cannot ensure proper vetting." And during a September 21 interview with Politico, Rosendale said, "It would be better for these folks to be settled in nations around them — Uzbekistan, Tajikistan — where they do share their culture, where they do share the religion, and everybody involved would be happier."

But Sen. Steve Daines, another Montana Republican, is expressing a different view of Afghan refugees. Daines has said, "These are refugees that love America.… and it's our duty to ensure that they are allowed a way to get away from the Taliban." On September 21, Daines told Politico that he welcomes "fully vetted refugees that were instrumental in helping U.S. forces in Afghanistan."

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, another Republican, told Politico, "There's probably 20,000 more in Afghanistan that are entitled to get out that we didn't get out and hope to get out. Those people should be easy to identify. But it's these other 70,000 that are just saying, 'I'm going to be killed by the Taliban.' They've all got stories, and vetting those (people) can be very difficult."

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