Tuberville In the News: FOX NEWS: Senators sound alarm on terror-related exemptions to US entry for Afghans, warn of ‘open-ended’ authority

FIRST ON FOX: A coalition of senators is seeking clarification from the Biden administration about what they fear is an “open-ended” authority to allow foreign nationals, who have provided “insignificant material support” to certain terrorist organizations, to enter the United States. 

Ten senators, led by Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., have written to the Departments of Homeland Security and State about the administration’s moves in June to allow Afghan evacuees who have worked as civil servants during Taliban rule, or individuals who have provided “individuals who provided insignificant or certain limited material support to a designated terrorist organization,” to be exempted from terror-related U.S. entry restrictions.

“We write because the American people deserve an explanation regarding the broad, open-ended nature of this authority for exempting individuals who would otherwise be barred from immigration to the United States for supporting a terrorist organization,” they write.

The U.S. has brought in tens of thousands of evacuees from Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal and Taliban takeover last year. As part of that, the administration moved in June to exempt certain Afghans who may be caught up in terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG).

TRIG places limits on individuals who are members of a terrorist organization or who have engaged in terrorism, making them inadmissible to the U.S. and ineligible for immigration benefits. The USCIS website says that the definition of terrorism-related activity “is relatively broad and may apply to individuals and activities not commonly thought to be associated with terrorism.” 

Both the lawmakers and the Biden administration have noted prior usage of TRIG exemptions including in 2019 to apply for those involved in the Lebanese civil war between 1975 and 1990. 

The June exemptions allowed for three situations in which Afghans could be exempt. The first would be for those employed as civil servants in Afghanistan at any time from Sept. 27, 1996 to Dec. 22, 2001 — after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks — and after August 15, 2021. DHS said that could apply to many occupations including teachers, doctors and engineers — and those who used their position to mitigate Taliban repression.