A press release from Virginia’s Loudon County Sheriff’s Office reveals the Department of Homeland Security plans to house Afghan refugees in a residential area that lies within walking distance of a local high school and middle school. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the notification came only last week by way of an unannounced visit. Staff of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service informed the Sheriff’s Office that around 2,000 Afghan refugees per month are scheduled to arrive at Washington Dulles Airport between February 19 and September 2022. DHS/FPS staff predict that no more than 1,000 refugees at any one time will be housed at a local National Conference Center (NCC) in Loudon County.
Sheriff Mike Chapman stated his office received “vague” information from DHS/FPS staff, citing “DHS’ lack of communication, lack of planning, language barriers, a failure to communicate with a myriad of potential stakeholders, and the NCC’s unfenced proximity to a residential neighborhood and two public schools.” In response to his question on vetting of incoming Afghan refugees, DHS assured him of vetting and reminded him that “many served as translators.” While DHS suggested that many of the refugees are family members of translators, only 30% of the refugees actually spoke English.
The Sheriff’s Office also pressed DHS staff on security concerns due to the NCC’s proximity to residential areas and schools. DHS promised FPS provision of 15 security officers at the NCC. Chapman noted, however, that FPS retains “no law enforcement jurisdiction in Loudoun County and cannot enforce nor investigate any criminal activity on the campus.” Furthermore, despite the FCC’s designation as a federal facility, “any potential criminal activity or domestic issues that might occur on the NCC campus” fall under the purview of local law enforcement for both investigation and intervention with no support from federal authorities.
Just one day following the Loudon County Sherriff Office’s press release, the Army Times covered the Department of Defense’s failure to Afghan evacuees prior to their arrival in the United States. A recently released report cited within the article found that the DoD did not vet Afghan refugees using all available DoD data. Of those refugees with “derogatory information” in their record, not all could be located following their arrival to the United States. The report notes that the inability of the government to “locate Afghan evacuees with derogatory information quickly and accurately could pose a security risk to the United States.”
This troubling report, along with previously reported allegations of sexual assaults and other crimes committed by Afghan refugees legitimize the concerns raised by Loudon County law enforcement. The Biden administration continues to operate with a lackluster record of transparency and due diligence, placing the lives of Americans at risk.