Saturday August 28, 2021
BY CAROLINE VAKIL
© Greg Nash
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is urging the U.S. to welcome Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban, saying “we must draw upon the best of our history and open our arms to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free” in an op-ed published Friday by CNN.
Omar wrote that the news reports of Afghans desperately trying to escape their country hit a personal chord for the former refugee from Somalia.
“We owe it to the Afghan who risked his life to fight alongside the United States. We owe it to the little girl huddled in a refugee camp, wondering if she will have a shot to ultimately become not just a guest, but an American. I know, because that little girl was me,” the congresswoman wrote.
“I wouldn't be here today, raising my children in comfort without the generosity of the Kenyan people, the tireless efforts of [United Nations] UN workers and the welcoming spirit of the American people who gave me and my family a second chance at life,” she said.
The U.S. is scrambling to evacuate as many Americans and Afghan allies as possible as the Biden administration tries to stick to a Tuesday deadline for the military to leave Kabul.
On Thursday, the situation was complicated by a suicide blast near the Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed 13 U.S. service members and injured 18 more. The attack, perpetrated by ISIS fighters, also claimed the lives of at least 60 Afghans.
Countries including the United Arab Emirates and Uganda have said they will temporarily take in Afghan evacuees at the request of the U.S., though it remains unclear where they will ultimately be relocated.
"Thursday's terrorist attack on Afghans and US service members was yet another reminder of the terror the people of Afghanistan continue to face," Omar wrote. "Now is the time to redouble our evacuation efforts and do everything we can to get people out who are most at risk."