Those of us old enough to remember the late 1970s — rampant inflation, high gas prices, and this country looking like a worldwide fool thanks to the foibles and failures of the Democratic president of the time — are getting another flashback.
The Wisconsin state senator who represents the towns around Fort McCoy has issued the strongest objection yet to the still murky plan to bring thousands of Afghan refugees to central Wisconsin.
Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, on Friday sent a strongly worded letter to Gov. Evers asking for answers about who the refugees are and where they will go once they arrive.
“There is no clear plan for background checks. There is no clear vetting plan. The plan for issuing visas appears to be dependent on using ‘volunteers’ – a proposal that raises strong concerns since prior to the pullout, qualified staff have been denying 80% of Afghani visa applications. There is no clear plan for health screenings. There is no clear plan for potentially necessary quarantines or vaccinations,” Testin wrote.
He said the Biden Administration has not provided any answers about the refugees. Now, he’s asking the Evers Administration.
“The people of Wisconsin are generous. We feel deep sympathy for those allies that our President abandoned and who now seek refuge. We honor the memory of the soldiers who gave their lives in an abandoned attempt to bring freedom and democracy to the Afghan people, while protecting our own,” Testin added. “We do not, however, trust that the President, or your administration, are taking even minimal steps to assure that the 30,000 Afghans to be moved to Wisconsin and Texas will be properly identified or screened, or that proper background or health checks will be completed.”
Gov. Evers said the number of refugees headed to Fort McCoy is anywhere between “a few hundred” and “two thousand.”
In addition to questions about vetting and background checks, Testin asked Gov. Evers some Wisconsin-specific questions about what happens when the refugees arrive”
- Refugees are eligible for Medical Assistance, BadgerCare, W2, and cash assistance. Has your administration calculated the added cost to Wisconsin taxpayers of 10-20,000 individuals who will doubtless be enrolled in these programs?
- If you plan to accept a population roughly equivalent to that of Marshfield, all of whom will be dependent on government assistance programs, have you asked for full federal reimbursement of all these costs that will otherwise be borne by Wisconsin taxpayers? If not, where do you propose diverting funds from to finance this expense?
- What plans has your administration made for the increased demands such a large influx of people presents to rural Wisconsin, including health care, law enforcement, education, and housing?
- What are your plans for transparency with this massive undertaking? When can we expect to see a dashboard so we may track the numbers, visas, health statistics, costs, problems and in particular the ejection of any refugees found to have terrorist ties?
Testin said the people of Wisconsin deserve the answers to the questions.
The flashback here is to the Mariel Boatlift, in which over six months in 1980 125,000 Cubans emigrated by air and boat to the U.S. That group, some of which ended up at Fort McCoy, included, depending on which source you believe, 2,700 hardened criminals (an academic study) or 16,000 to 20,000 criminals (the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel). It also brought some number of former inmates of Cuban mental institutions, some of which were definitely mentally ill (as opposed to being institutionalized because you don’t sing from the Castro hymnal), and some of which ended up living on downtown Madison streets.
Some of those criminals were guilty of crimes that would not be considered crimes in civilized countries (for instance, selling on the black market, being religious or being “antisocialist”). But while the Mariel Boatlift brought to the U.S. businessmen and artists, it also brought the founder of the New York Kings gang, a serial killer, an arsonist and mass murderer, and two other murderers, part of the 7,000 Marielitos arrested for felonies in the U.S. by 1987. (Also the fictional gangster Tony Montana, grossly overacted by Al Pacino in the 1980s movie “Scarface.”)
The concern here is less about criminals or mentally ill Afghans, but about terrorists smuggled in with the other Afghan refugees. Americans with short memories forget that Osama bin Laden hatched his 9/11 plans from Afghanistan. And the idea of Afghans whose visas were denied suddenly being allowed here, if Testin’s number is correct, should raise questions at least.
Since we are an immigrant nation, we should welcome refugees who want to come to this country and live as Americans, not as expatriates of where they came from, or trying to foment terror in less likely places for terrorist attacks than New York or Washington were on 9/11.