Tennessee intelligence officials brace for backlash following resettlement of Afghan refugees

Special Reports

FILE – In this Aug. 24, 2021, file photo, provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, families walk towards their flight during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan. A school district in a San Diego suburb that is home to a large refugee population says many of its families who had taken summer trips to Afghanistan to see their relatives have gotten stuck there with the chaos following the withdrawal of U.S. troops. (Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps via AP, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – We’ve all seen the pictures and grim news reports of Afghan refugees desperate to flee the country during the U.S. troop withdrawal. The director for the Department of Homeland Security for Tennessee, Greg Mays, explains tens of thousands of Afghans are arriving in America after being evacuated.

“It will be important for the United States government to make sure that the borders are secure. That will be an ongoing thing that keeps us awake at night,” Mays says.

Many evacuees face unclear immigration status putting thousands at risk of arriving at the border without approved visas.

The sheer volume of refugees has strained U.S. resettlement agencies and TBI’s Director David Rausch fears that compromises the country’s security.

“Our Southern border is too porous right now. We were on a phone call this past week listening to all that’s being done in terms of resettlements, because there is a concern that someone might try to sneak through.”

He continues. “There’s a lot being done to assure that that doesn’t happen. I’m confident with what I’ve heard. Although, I’m still concerned.”

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Mays agrees saying the presence of our military overseas all but stopped major terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since September 11th, 2001.

“The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have, I guess you can say, kept their heads down. The fight has been over there, and we are not sure if the fight will begin to come here now. And, that’s a concern.”

Especially as intelligence agencies track current threats. “We know for a fact that we have active cells of cartels in our country,” Rausch says. “They flew across the border as quickly as they could when the border opened up, and they are here, and they are operating.”

This is why Rausch feels troops, now home, should be redirected to the Southern and Northern borders.

“We brought home these resources, let’s put them to work. Let’s refocus and understand there is a threat. The best mitigation is to ensure those who are coming across are appropriate and aren’t terrorists coming to strike us again on our homeland. That’s a real potential, and we’ve got to be careful,” says Rausch.

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