The scenes coming out of Afghanistan over the last 24 hours have been nothing less than horrific, though we must not look away. We tragically lost Americans, allies were killed, and innocents were gruesomely annihilated.
There is understandable concern that the chaotic, disastrous response by the Biden administration in withdrawing from Afghanistan will carry over to its ability to safely screen refugees. In truth, I would not be surprised if the Biden administration, to this point, has failed to appropriately coordinate across agencies to execute these responsibilities.
Thankfully, we are not constrained by an arbitrary deadline dictated to us by the Taliban and disturbingly accepted by our leaders. It is imperative that the disorder and disarray of our exit from Afghanistan does not extend to the screening and processing of Afghan refugees in America. We should not and must not privilege speed over thoroughness.
Many flight manifests were handwritten, hastily compiled as masses attempted to flee their home in pursuit of a better life. Reports on the ground suggest screening gave way to speed. More understandable in a war zone, not condonable here at home.
Whether it takes two days or two months, as long as they are humanely housed, fed, and provided for medically, the process should take the course it needs to take, not the one some wish it to take. There is no benefit to rapid vetting other than potentially good optics for an administration that desperately needs a victory. Make no mistake, they will call into question anyone encouraging scrutiny. We must resist insinuation that demands for appropriately thorough screening is tied to any word ending in -ism or -phobia.
A complete process protects everyone because, once assiduously scrutinized, we will welcome them into America with open arms. There are already planes landing with hundreds of refugees and time is running short for us to execute this successfully. It is possible to keep our beacon of freedom burning bright while ensuring we place the safety and security of our citizens at the forefront of policy.
The Biden administration must properly mobilize the Department of State, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security, to do their jobs. Otherwise, what we successfully kept abroad for two decades might be brought back home again.