New Mexico Rep. Herrell seeks reassurance on Afghan refugees

Local News

In this Dec. 18, 2019, file photo, U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell of New Mexico waits for a news conference in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Republican congresswoman is seeking more information on the vetting process for Afghan refugees and emphasizing security concerns as she embarks on a tour of resettlement operations at an Air Force base on the outskirts of her hometown in southern New Mexico.

U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell toured the resettlement operations at Holloman Air Force Base on Tuesday near Alamogordo.

“For weeks Rep. Herrell has insisted upon Congressional oversight following Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan,” spokesman Billy Gribbin said in an email. “Rep. Herrell believes that New Mexicans deserve transparency in a process that has been clouded by the Biden administration’s incompetence thus far.”

In a commitment to help people who aided the American war effort and others who are particularly vulnerable under Taliban rule, at least 50,000 Afghans are expected to be admitted into the United States following the fall of Kabul.

Most of the Afghans who have arrived in the U.S. are being housed on military installations, receiving medical treatment, assistance with submitting immigration applications and other services aimed at helping them settle in the country.

Similar resettlement efforts are underway at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, Fort Bliss in Texas, Fort Lee in Virginia, Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst in New Jersey, Fort Pickett in Virginia and other military facilities.

The refugees taken to Fort Bliss are actually being housed at the Doña Ana Range Complex in New Mexico, which is also in Herrell’s district.

The Department of Homeland Security said last week that tens of thousands of Afghans already have made it through security vetting and arrived in the U.S.

In 2018, Herrell flipped New Mexico’s southern District 2 seat to Republican control while embracing then-President Donald Trump’s border wall strategy and espousing a pro-petroleum philosophy in a major U.S. oil-production hub.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has offered New Mexico as a ready participant in efforts to assist with Afghan refugees seeking asylum.

Gribbin said the congresswoman also intends to review the living conditions for Afghan nationals brought to New Mexico.

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