The U.S. is holding more than 17,000 Afghan evacuees on American soil and has nearly 40,000 more overseas eyeing a future entry to the U.S., according to a new report.
Afghans in the U.S. are spread across eight military bases with a capacity to hold 30,000, though the bases have been ordered to expand that to 50,000, CBS News reported Wednesday.
At Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin, which was holding about 3,000 people over the weekend, capacity had been slated for 10,000, but it has been told to prepare for 13,000 people total, according to Rep. Tom Tiffany, a Wisconsin Republican who visited the base last week.
“It deeply concerns me that are they going to overcrowd the base, and all the attendant things that can go with that,” the lawmaker told The Washington Times.
He said Americans had been told the evacuation mission was about helping Afghans who assisted the U.S. war effort and for whom there’s a special visa available. But it appears almost all of those in the U.S. now were brought under what is known as parole, a special power the secretary of Homeland Security has to admit people for humanitarian or national interest reasons.
“They have so many people and this is so poorly planned that they’re just trying to find a home for everybody they’re trying to bring to the United States,” he said.
Mr. Tiffany said the Afghans should be kept in a safe third country until the processing for their special visa is completed.
Biden administration officials said they evacuated more than 120,000 people out of Afghanistan between mid-July and the end of U.S. operations on Monday. But the administration has been tight-lipped about who was in that mass of people.
According to CBS, 17,571 are Afghans who were brought to the U.S., and 39,684 are at overseas American military bases. It’s not clear how many of those will be brought to the U.S., though the order to expand domestic base capacity to 50,000 suggests the vast majority may be headed to the U.S.