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Yes, there is a vetting process for Afghan refugees coming into the US

Before Afghan refugees come into the U.S., they have to be screened by several government agencies.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2021, file photo, provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, families walk towards their flight during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan. A school district in a San Diego suburb that is home to a large refugee population says many of its families who had taken summer trips to Afghanistan to see their relatives have gotten stuck there with the chaos following the withdrawal of U.S. troops. (Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps via AP, File)

On Aug. 31, the longest war in American history ended with the full withdrawal of American troops out of Afghanistan. President Joe Biden said during the process that the U.S. completed “one of the biggest airlifts in history, with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety.”

“We got out thousands of citizens and diplomats from those countries that went into Afghanistan with us to get bin Laden. We got out locally employed staff of the United States Embassy and their families, totaling roughly 2,500 people. We got thousands of Afghan translators and interpreters and others, who supported the United States, out as well,” Biden said on Aug. 31.

Biden had previously said the U.S. would welcome Afghan allies into the country, and temporary housing has been set up across military bases around the country for up to 50,000 Afghan refugees, the U.S. Northern Command tweeted.

THE QUESTION

VERIFY viewer Mike asked: “When we bring Afghan refugees to the US, do we have a way to ensure they aren't extremists, like some sort of background check?”

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, Afghans entering the country are screened prior to entry. Afghans that have begun the application process for a special immigrant visa are allowed in the U.S., but those who have not begun the screening process are sent to third-party countries. 

WHAT WE FOUND

The U.S. is allowing U.S. citizens, green card holders, recipients of a special immigrant visa (SIV), refugees, and people seeking humanitarian parole into the country from Afghanistan. 

Afghans further in the screening process for an SIV have been allowed into the country. For those not far enough into the process, they are being staged in third-party countries until their screening is complete, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said

“I would remind you that there are a number of people — tens of thousands of people who are departing Afghanistan who are going to third countries — ‘lily pads,’ as we’ve been calling them — and where additional vetting can take place, either because they’ve only proceeded through certain steps of this — of the immigrant visa process, or because their vetting process has not yet been completed,” Psaki said at an Aug. 25 press briefing.

In a press call, a Biden administration official said a number of military bases around the country are being used to temporarily house SIV applicants that are further in the process and other vulnerable Afghans. 

“The screening and security vetting is conducted by a combination of the intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from across government … What they are doing are -- they’re conducting screening and security vetting for all SIV applicants and other vulnerable Afghans before they are allowed into the United States. This includes reviews of both biographic and biometric data. And if an individual is not through that vetting process, they’re not coming into the United States,” Psaki said.

A biometric search includes running an FBI fingerprint check, and officials are looking for biographical data, including names, dates of birth and affiliations.

More from VERIFY: No, the US did not leave military service dogs in cages at Kabul airport like viral posts claim

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