Sen. Ted Cruz has security concerns about Afghan refugees at Fort Bliss after visit

Politics

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, visited El Paso on Friday and toured where the Afghan refugees are being housed at Fort Bliss.

Cruz took an aerial tour of the area at Fort Bliss and said the perimeter around the housing area is “not secure”.

During a pentagon briefing on Friday, Air Force Cmdr. Glen VanHerck said they are working around the clock to vet all Afghan refugees before allowing them into the United States. According to the Pentagon, there are now more than 2,000 Afghan refugees being housed at Fort Bliss.

After the aerial tour, Cruz said he doesn’t think enough vetting is being done for those coming to the U.S. from Afghanistan, and while he said he thinks America should help the Afghans who helped us, he believes they should be taken to a third-party country that is not the U.S.

“I agree with getting them out of harm’s way I just think we should be getting them to a neutral third country rather than making the united states vulnerable,” said Cruz.

“I agree with getting them out of harm’s way I just think we should be getting them to a neutral third country rather than making the united states vulnerable,” said Cruz.

Adding that he has security concerns the refugees can leave Fort Bliss.

“The leadership at Fort Bliss told me about one of the refugees who called an uber and took an uber to downtown El Paso and they are not detaining anyone there so if 10,000 refugees arrive there, every one of those 10,000 can choose to leave tomorrow,” said Cruz.

A Ft. Bliss spokesman clarified Cruz’s comments, and said there has been a security perimeter established for the purpose of keeping the area safe. It is also true, the spokesman said, that guests inside the Dona Ana Village may depart when they deep appropriate, which falls in line with the benefits for Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa Holders.

According to the government Office of Refugee Resettlement’s website, special immigrant visa holders from Iraq and Afghanistan are eligible for the same benefits as a refugee from the first day they arrive in the U.S.

Dana Pittard, a former commander at Fort Bliss who served in Iraq, spoke to KTSM about security surrounding refugees at Fort Bliss.

“The fact that they’re on Fort Bliss, a place like Doña Ana McGregor Range, the harm to surrounding civilian population is absolutely minimal,” said Pittard.

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