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Thousands of Afghan refugees whisked to safety during the massive evacuation that concluded this week experienced their first taste of freedom here in Dona Ana County.
The Dona Ana Range Complex, a part of the Fort Bliss Army post that extends into Dona Ana and Otero counties in New Mexico, is being used as a temporary holding site for those evacuated from Afghanistan as part of Operation Allies Rescue.
As many as 10,000 evacuees are expected to be processed there. The Department of Defense has said that up to 22,000 Afghans have been approved for transport to the United States.
Those fortunate enough to begin their new American experience here will find a warm welcome. Volunteer assistance is being coordinated through the American Red Cross. El Calvario Church in Las Cruces, which has been helping to care for new arrivals to our country for many years, is collecting hygiene kits and basic supplies for those who will be taken to Holloman Air Force Base in Otero County. And, they are working to help find housing options for those who want to stay in the region.
The deadly attack at the gate leading into the Kabul airport last week in which 13 U.S. troops and many more Afghans were killed provides tragic evidence as to why people are so desperate to leave.
Taliban leaders who now control Afghanistan say they will not retaliate against those who have aided the U.S. military effort for the past 20 years, but those assurances are not believable.
Immigration opponents will argue that people throughout the globe live in dangerous conditions, and we can’t take them all in. But the threats faced by those now in Afghanistan are of our own making.
We weren’t invited to Afghanistan. We came seeking vengeance and retribution following the worst attack on our nation since Pearl Harbor. Somewhere along the line, that morphed into a 20-year attempt to rebuild that nation in our image. That was our decision.
Our initial success in rooting out the Taliban was due to the overwhelming might of our military. But any successes we had following those first days were achieved working in partnership with our Afghan allies.
Solemn commitments made on the battlefield can’t be forgotten once the battle ends.
We brought the war to Afghanistan and forced them to pick a side. Those who joined with us ended up on the losing side, and their lives will be in danger until they are able to leave the country.
Of course, anybody coming to the United States will be carefully vetted first. They should also be tested for Covid-19 and vaccinated. But, thousands are on their way, and will be beginning their new lives in America soon.
I look forward to the contributions they will make in the coming years, and am glad that our community can help get them started on their American journey.
For those who disagree, and see any immigration not coming from Europe as a dilution of our culture, I would advise them to keep that in mind the next time a president wants to lead us into war on spurious grounds, such as the mythical weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Colin Powell was wrong. There isn’t a rule at Pottery Barn that if you break something you have to buy it. But that rule should apply when it comes to using our military to break other nations.
This is our mess. We are responsible for putting those who helped us in danger. It is now our responsibility to bring them to safety.
Walter Rubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org