Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas revealed that only three percent of the over 60,000 Afghan evacuees brought to the United States following the end of the war in Afghanistan have been special immigrant visa recipients.
“Approximately 6 percent have been lawful permanent residents. Approximately 3 percent have been individuals who are in receipt of the special immigrant visas,” Mayorkas said during congressional testimony Tuesday.
Mayorkas also said that about 7 percent of those evacuated from Afghanistan were American citizens, while also noting that some of those who were not SIV holders could qualify for the visa but have not yet applied.
Typical SIV holders are those who worked for the American military as interpreters during the 20 year U.S. war in the country, placing them in danger of retribution from the Taliban.
Roughly 18,000 to 20,000 Afghans who worked with the U.S. military during the war have applied for the visas, a notoriously slow process that threatened to leave many American allies behind in the country. The number of those looking to leave the country under the program swells to at least 70,000 people when family members of the applicants are included in the tally.
The comments came on the same day Mayorkas had a heated exchange with Sen. Ron Johnson over the situation at the southern border.
Of the 1.3 million people that we’ve apprehended, how many have been returned, how many people are being detained, and how many people have been dispersed? And I want some numbers here,” Johnson asked Mayorkas while pressing him on whether the administration had an open border policy.
“Senator, I would be pleased to provide you with that data — ” Mayorkas replied before being cut off by Johnson.
“I want them now,” Johnson shot back. “Why don’t you have that information now?”
“Senator, I do not have that data before me,” Mayorkas said.
“Why not? Why don’t you have that basic information?” the senator responded.
“Senator, I want to be accurate,” Mayorkas said.