Among the questions the United States has confronted in Afghanistan is why, exactly, our allies have struggled to get their visa applications processed. At issue is a group of unique Afghans who played a special role working with, for, and alongside U.S. forces, qualifying them for a special visa category.
And yet, these same special allies have faced bureaucratic struggles for quite a while, and a newly offered explanation has jolted the larger conversation. The New York Times reported over the weekend:
A homeland security adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence accused the Trump administration of distorting the truth about Afghan refugees, writing on Twitter that the former president and Stephen Miller, his top immigration adviser, sought to prevent the refugees from entering the United States.
At issue are revelations from Olivia Troye, a lifelong Republican who served as a counterterrorism and homeland security adviser to then-Vice President Mike Pence, and who ultimately came forward to expose wrongdoing in the Trump White House.
Late last week, she did so again, publishing a social-media thread on her efforts to advocate for refugees during her tenure, only to confront a system that wouldn't budge, even when then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis intervened.
As Rachel explained during Friday night's show, we dug in on that point, and corroborated the claim: Mattis did, in fact, send a memo in September 2018 advising the Trump administration not to limit entry to Iraqis and Afghans who provided essential mission support.
But the Trump administration dragged its feet anyway, not because of a non-responsive bureaucracy, but because of deliberate malice. As Troye wrote, "There were cabinet [meetings] about this during the Trump [administration] where Stephen Miller would peddle his racist hysteria about Iraq and Afghanistan. He and his enablers across [government] would undermine anyone who worked on solving the SIV issue by devastating the system" at the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.
Troye added that Miller and the former president had "watchdogs in place" in key agencies and departments, who in turn "made an already cumbersome SIV process even more challenging."
The allegations are striking in their significance. These are, after all, allies who played lifesaving roles. They're eligible for special immigration visas, for themselves and their families, which they earned. That process was going to be cumbersome anyway, but according to Troye, while Team Trump made overt plans to end the war in Afghanistan, it also chose to make the SIV process worse on purpose.
Also on Friday afternoon, Elizabeth Neumann, a former DHS assistant secretary for counterterrorism threat prevention in the Trump administration, confirmed Troye's account.
What's more, let's also not forget that it was two years ago when a federal court concluded that the Trump administration was, in fact, ignoring the law by needlessly delaying the process through which visas were processed.
But as Rachel concluded on the show, it's one thing for a federal judge to call out the Trump administration for a broken process; it's something else for a Trump administration insider to tell the public that the process was broken deliberately by officials who didn't want to help those who helped us.