Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
The far-right’s smear campaign against Afghan refugees has already begun, even as thousands of people who helped the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan try desperately to leave the country amid the fall of the government and the takeover by the Taliban.
About 2,000 Afghans have already evacuated for the United States since July, according to the New York Times. President Biden said Saturday that he would deploy 5,000 U.S. troops for the “orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance.” Director of Defense Intelligence Garry Reid said Monday that the military was attempting to evacuate up to 22,000 refugees applying for special visas to U.S. military bases.
On Monday, however, Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham directed their anger toward Afghans attempting to flee to the country they helped during the 20-year war.
“The people who made the Afghan occupation possible would like to see a lot more of our southern border, a lot more unrestrained immigration. ‘Bring in the refugees,’” they’re screaming,” Carlson said.
After reading a Mitt Romney tweet calling on Biden to “urgently rush to defend, rescue, and give and expand asylum,” in a mocking voice, Carlson smirked and compared the situation in Afghanistan to fentanyl overdoses in the United States.
“If history is any guide—and it’s always a guide—we will see many refugees from Afghanistan resettle in our country in the coming months, probably in your neighborhood. And over the next decade, that number may swell to the millions,” Carlson said.
“So first we invade, and then we’re invaded. It is always the same,” Carlson said, adding that his show will “be spending a lot more time on that subject in the coming weeks, because it matters.”
Carlson’s diatribe is just the latest variation on his theme of terrifying white people with the prospect of the U.S. becoming less white. Ingraham, meanwhile, called the collapse of the Afghan government a “catastrophic failure of the political establishment,” but she had zero sympathy for refugees of the country the U.S. invaded and destabilized over the past 20 years.
“Is it really our responsibility to welcome thousands of potentially unvetted refugees from Afghanistan?” Ingraham said, following an interview with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “All day we've heard phrases like ‘We promised them.’ Well, who did? Did you?”
But only a minority of the more than 300,000 Afghans who have aided the U.S. in some way during the long war even qualify for refugee protection under existing U.S. law, according to the New York Times.
Still, the anti-refugee talking points are already proliferating throughout the conservative movement. Stephen Miller, a former Trump adviser and the architect of many of the former president’s anti-immigrant policies, tweeted Saturday that “Biden & his radical deputies will use their catastrophic debacle in Afghanistan as a pretext for doing to America what [German chancellor] Angela Merkel did to Germany & Europe.”
Under Merkel’s government, Germany took in more than 1.7 million refugees in 2015. In the next election, two years later, Merkel’s conservative party maintained power, but a far-right, anti-immigrant party that had never had representation in Germany’s Bundestag won nearly 100 seats and overnight became the third-largest party in the government.
Asylum to the U.S. has plummeted over the past several decades. In 1980, the year Congress passed the Refugee Act increasing refugee admission limits, the U.S. admitted more than 200,000 refugees into the country, according to the Department of State’s Refugee Processing Center; last year, the Trump administration admitted fewer than 11,000. After pushback from progressive Democrats, Biden increased the limit in May to more than 62,000.
“Our current military mission is short on time, limited in scope, and focused in its objectives: Get our people and our allies as safely and quickly as possible,” Biden said in a televised address to the nation Monday. “And once we have completed this mission, we will conclude our military withdrawal. We will end America’s longest war after 20 long years of bloodshed.”