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Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington calls helping Afghan partners an 'American challenge'

Adam D. Young | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Officials with the city of Lubbock and U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington on Tuesday said they weren't immediately aware of any plans to bring refugees from Afghanistan to the Hub City.

That comes as tens of thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing the now Taliban-controlled country are being evacuated to the U.S., with hundreds destined to at least be housed temporarily at Fort Bliss in El Paso and hundreds more in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston, the Austin American Statesman reported Tuesday.

So far, updates about refugee placement have come from officials with the Refugee Services of Texas agency and through the Pentagon.

Arrington, R-Lubbock, said the nation's first responsibility should be to make sure American service members, diplomats and citizens are safe.

"We're still trying to get Americans out of harm's way in this self-inflicted situation," Arrington said.

But, he said, the country is obligated to welcome Afghan refugees who have worked with our country at great risk to their own lives, calling protecting those partners an "American challenge" that West Texans and the country as a whole must face together.

Not protecting Afghan citizens who risked their lives assisting our efforts would compromise U.S. credibility around the world.

Arrington was critical of what he called the Biden administration's poorly executed and poorly planned withdrawal of forces, adding that the last few weeks have exposed our people and allies and placed billions of dollars in military assets in the hands of a Taliban regime we've fought to keep at bay for nearly 20 years.

"I don't want to be in Afghanistan a day long than we have to," he said, but opposes a withdrawal that's "politically expedient."

Arrington acknowledged the withdrawal was a longtime in the making, and even that former President Trump had pursued a pull-out from Afghanistan.

But he insisted the Trump administration ultimately listened to military commanders and wasn't willing to leave without a  "conditional withdrawal agreement."

"Now we've lost leverage and didn't have a deal," that ensured a peaceful transition of power, Arrington said.