Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) begged the U.S. on Friday to take in Afghan refugees, detailing her plea in an op-ed published one day after suicide bombings killed 13 U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan.
In the piece on Friday, Omar said the news of the “families scrambling to get on American planes” “instantly” took her back to her childhood, sitting in a refugee camp with her grandfather, who told her, “Only in America can you ultimately become an American. Everywhere else we will always feel like a guest”:
He was right. I was lucky to become an American, not a guest, and ultimately represent my new home of Minnesota in the halls of Congress. But right now there are thousands of Afghans, many of whom risked their lives to help the United States, who are wondering if they will have that same opportunity to make new lives here.
Calling this a “critical moment,” Omar quoted President Biden, who said during his presidential campaign that the U.S. “deserves an immigration policy that reflects our highest values as a nation.”
For paragraphs, Omar spoke of immigration policy throughout history but did not emphasize the American citizens still stranded in the country.
Rather, Omar credited Biden with “evacuating over 70,000 people from Kabul” over the last week but said “tens of thousands” more need U.S. assistance.
“My office alone has received over 5,000 requests from people trying to get family members and colleagues out of Afghanistan just in the past two weeks—representing tens of thousands of individuals who are afraid for their lives,” she wrote.
While she briefly mentioned 13 U.S. servicemembers killed in Afghanistan on Thursday, the Minnesota lawmaker said it serves as “yet another reminder of the terror the people of Afghanistan continue to face.”
Because of that, Omar believes the U.S. should allow Afghan citizens to “emigrate here immediately using national interest waivers and humanitarian parole.”
“We must hold the airport in Kabul and lead an international coalition to evacuate every person who is fleeing for their lives in Afghanistan,” she said.
But Omar went even further, calling on the U.S. to do more, addressing the human rights crises in areas such as Central America, Haiti, Syria, and Libya while predicting that the “climate migration” will be “one of the defining political challenges of the coming century.”
“I’m glad that the President allocated $500 million to help resettle Afghans, but we must do more. The reconciliation package should include funding to address this. And we must live up to our promises to increase the refugee cap,” she demanded, contending the U.S. owes it to the Afghan people.
On Thursday, Omar fellow “Squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also pleaded for the U.S. to take more refugees, “no less than 200,000” in the upcoming year, to make amends for war:
Two suicide explosions outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport and the Baron Hotel in Kabul killed at least 90 people, including 13 U.S. servicemembers, according to reports. The tragic events reflect the largest single-day loss of life for U.S. servicemen since 2011:
The exact number of American citizens still stranded in the country remains unclear, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken put the figure around 1,500 as of Wednesday.