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Wisconsin Congressmen tour Fort McCoy as refugees come in

Five representative, including Rep. Tom Tiffany, observe daily process as Afghan refugees continue to arrive
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 4:49 PM CDT
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TOMAH, Wis. (WSAW) - Five Wisconsin representatives toured Fort McCoy near Tomah Friday to observe the daily processes of the base as refugees from Afghanistan continue to arrive.

At the time of the tour, more than 2,000 refugees inhabited the base. By the end of the day Friday, lawmakers said there could be as many as 3,000 refugees.

The five congressmen on tour were Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI-08), Rep. Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Rep. Bryan Steil (WI-01), Rep. Tom Tiffany (WI-07) and Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (WI-05).

The representatives noted how proud they were to see soldiers helping the refugees get settled, with some soldiers even playing with some of the children.

Most, if not all of the refugees have not received special immigration visas, even though many are in the process of doing so. Most came over as parolees, a special administrative function.

Rep. Tiffany noted that vetting is still his biggest concern, especially a day after a terror attack at the Kabul airport that left 13 U.S. service members dead, as well as more than 100 Afghans.

“Are they doing a thorough vetting? Because we cannot have terror imported into the United States here,” said Rep. Tiffany. “We have to be very careful at this point to make sure those legitimately belong here because we want them to be here.”

Friday, the Air Force General in charge of Fort McCoy Gen. Glen D. Van Herck reaffirmed the vetting process saying that the Department of Homeland Security does counter terrorism screening and bio-metric testing, all of which is done before refugees enter the U.S.

As for the refugees in Fort McCoy already, there is no certain timetable for how long they could be there.

“They felt it could be two to four weeks to educate these people before they send them on to some charitable agency,” said Rep. Grothman. “It’s a new thing. The first people arrived just a week ago. They don’t even know themselves.”

According to the congressmen, there are early plans in the work for a sponsorship-type program.

In total, Fort McCoy can hold up to 10,000 refugees.

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