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Republican Rep. Scott Perry says he opposes an increase in the number of Afghan refugees allowed into the U.S. because he worries that without stringent vetting it could lead to “little girls raped and killed in the streets.”
Perry was asked by journalist Greta Van Susteren on her “Full Court Press” show Sunday why he had voted against the ALLIES Act, a bipartisan bill to expedite visas for Afghan refugees and increase the number that would be allowed into the country.
“Because I don't think it's appropriate to bring poorly vetted people from an Islamic state to the United States of America,” he said. “I represent the United States of America and American citizens, and it's my job and I think it's this Congress's job to ensure their safety.”
Perry claimed the bill would expand the program “very broadly” because it included families of interpreters and others who’d helped coalition forces, saying that “entire families and every person they knew that maybe did some menial work for American contractors” shouldn’t be included. He then claimed that some Afghan interpreters who’d worked with Americans had turned on them in terror attacks, while warning of violence against Americans if the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program was expanded to help more Afghans fleeing the Taliban to settle in the U.S.
“Even when we were talking about interpreters that work with the military, there was also plenty of evidence that they would turn on their Americans and actually be part of the complex or less-than-complex attacks against the very Americans they were working with. So I found this highly, highly questionable and I wanted to see it tightened up very much before I would sign my name onto it,” Perry said. “I'm not going to be responsible for seeing our little girls raped and killed in the streets because we wanted to bring people that are poorly vetted into the United States."
Perry added that the rapid collapse of the Afghan army showed soldiers who’d fought alongside NATO troops had “changed sides, essentially” to support the Taliban. Over the last few weeks, the United States evacuated roughly 120,000 people from Afghanistan in an effort that ended on Monday, most of them Afghans.
Perry’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment. The full exchange can be seen here:
Perry, who served in the Army National Guard for 40 years, was one of just 16 House Republicans to vote against bill. It would have removed some requirements for Afghan refugees to apply for the SIV program that was causing delays and backlogs for those trying to secure visas before the country fell, and would increase the total number of visas available from 11,000 to 19,000.
The bill was introduced by Colorado Democratic Rep. Jason Crow along with 24 Republican co-sponsors, passed the House in a 407-16 vote in late July, and awaits Senate action. All of the 16 members who voted against the bill were Republicans.
When pushed by Van Susteren about whether the U.S. has a moral obligation to Afghan allies whose lives might be in danger in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, Perry said, “Of course we have some obligation to them”—but he added it should only come after all Americans are extracted from the country, as well as “extreme vetting” to make sure they wouldn’t turn on their American hosts.
Perry is one of Congress’ most controversial GOP members, with a penchant for inflammatory rhetoric.
“I think it’s right that we look at every single person who has been relocated to one of these other countries because they want to get out of the terrorist reign of the Taliban. But we also must understand that the Taliban, ISIS-Khoresan group, [and] al Qaeda want to embed their operatives within that population. So America really has to be diligent in making sure that vetting happens appropriately,” he said. “If there’s any question whatsoever about an individual’s regard and care for peace and tranquility and being peaceful as a potential American citizen, then I think we have to take pause.”