Congressman Lamar Smith today issued the following statement regarding reports that 17 members of the Afghan military have gone AWOL over the course of two years from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio:
Congressman Smith: "Both the Air Force and Department of Homeland Security must provide Congress with a full briefing on how 17 Afghan military members were able to go AWOL from Lackland Air Force base. It's no surprise that individuals who come to the U.S. legally on visas decide to stay illegally. But when those individuals are foreign military officers--with special access to military facilities--it creates a serious national security threat to American communities.
"This is precisely why immigration enforcement is so important. If the Department of Defense is going to bring foreign military officers into the U.S. for training, there needs to be a system to make sure that they do not go AWOL. If the Department of Homeland Security had implemented a biometric system to track the departure of visitors in the United States, we would at least know how many of these 17 individuals to look for inside the U.S.
"I am very concerned that this has been a problem for years and yet the Department of Homeland Security is just now issuing an alert. My staff has contacted the Air Force and Department of Homeland Security to information regarding what went wrong. To keep the American people safe, we must ensure that individuals brought to the U.S. for military training are not allowed to disappear into American communities."
Congressman Smith is a member of the Homeland Security Committee and serves as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee.