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Kansas lawmakers demand rigorous vetting of Afghan refugees

By: - September 16, 2021 5:00 pm
U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, the 2nd District Republican, joined U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall in demanding thorough vetting of Afghan refugees before any were relocated to Kansas. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, the 2nd District Republican, joined U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall in demanding thorough vetting of Afghan refugees before any were relocated to Kansas. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Two members of the Kansas congressional delegation who demanded swift removal of Afghans threatened by the Taliban called Thursday for thorough examination of those individuals before relocated to communities in Kansas.

U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner and U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, Republicans critical of Democratic President Joe Biden’s removal of U.S. forces and allies from Afghanistan, said each refugee from Afghanistan should be subjected to scrutiny to make certain terrorists didn’t put Americans in harm’s way.

“While it’s critical that we get Americans home safely and our allies out of Afghanistan, it’s also critical that the Biden administration ensures no corners were cut and every single evacuee entering our country receives a complete and thorough vetting process,” said LaTurner, who serves the 2nd District of eastern Kansas.

He said the central objective was to help move Americans and Afghan allies to safety. He also said rise of radical terrorism required U.S. officials to be “vigilant in protecting our homeland.”

The Biden administration indicated nearly 500 refugees could be resettled in Kansas under a process initially involving 37,000 evacuees from Afghanistan who worked with U.S. government or military before the Taliban routed the Afghan government.

It’s possible as many as 95,000 Afghans could be resettled in the United States during the next 12 months, with the majority moving to states such as California and Texas with existing Afghan populations. Each would be assessed by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They would be subject to security and health screenings. Those 12 years of age or older would be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Marshall, a Republican who previously represented the rural 1st District of western Kansas, said Gov. Laura Kelly should be responsible for guaranteeing each refugee stepping foot in Kansas was properly vetted in a third country.

Marshall, who is a physician, said Americans could show compassion without ignoring the risk of refugees transmitting COVID-19 or spreading other diseases inside Kansas.

“We must protect against those who may wish to do Americans harm and the potential public health threat that accompanies individuals relocating from a nation that has minimal numbers of COVID vaccinations administered and concerning numbers of other infectious diseases such as polio, mumps, rubella and tuberculosis,” the senator said.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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