Jim Acosta Asks Why U.S. is 'Welcoming Afghans' But 'Sending Haitians Back'

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas denied there was a "contradiction" when asked why the U.S. was "welcoming" Afghans, while sending Haitians back.

During an interview on Sunday, CNN's Jim Acosta noted Mayorkas had recently said at least 50,000 Afghans who aided the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan and those vulnerable to persecution from the Taliban are expected to be resettled in the U.S.

Acosta said the influx of Afghan refugees had raised questions about whether they were being properly vetted, citing Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale's reaction to learning that 75 of them would be resettled in his state.

"I have advocated that we should try and settle these individuals in other countries around Afghanistan that share their values and culture, especially if we can not ensure proper vetting," Rosendale tweeted last week.

Asked for his response to the Republican lawmaker's comments, Mayorkas said the screening and vetting of refugees is "multi-layered."

"It involves agencies in the intelligence, law enforcement, and counter-terrorism areas across the federal government. This is what we do."

Mayorkas said the voices "that overwhelm his voice are the voices of unity and pride in accepting vulnerable Afghans."

Migrants at the border
Migrants, mostly from Haiti, gather at a makeshift encampment under the International Bridge on the broder between Del Rio, TX and Acuña, MX on September 17, 2021 in Del Rio, Texas. Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

He continued: "This is who we are as a country. We stand up for the people who stood up for us. We are providing refuge to individuals who assisted us in combat in Afghanistan. We are providing refuge to vulnerable women, journalists, young kids.

"This is one of our greatest traditions as a country. We have committed relief to those individuals, and we are delivering it. And we are delivering it while securing the safety of the American public."

The sentiment prompted Acosta to question why the Biden administration is ramping up deportation flights from Del Rio, Texas, to send Haitians back to a county grappling with a humanitarian crisis compounded by natural disasters and political turmoil.

"We're welcoming Afghans, but we're sending Haitians back. Is there a contradiction there?" Acosta asked.

"Not at all," Mayorkas replied. "Those two processes are quite different. We are bringing in Afghan nationals by air after they have been screened and vetted. That is a safe, orderly, and humane process.

"That is quite different than irregular migration, illegal entry in between ports of entry in a time of pandemic when we have been quite clear, explicit, for months now that that is not the way to reach the United States. And it will not succeed."

Earlier in the segment, Mayorkas confirmed that he will be taking a trip to the border to assess the situation in Del Rio, where thousands of primarily Haitian migrants are camping around a bridge.

Acosta: What do you say to those voices out there who claim immigrants are being brought in to replace other Americans?
Mayorkas: A Cuban immigrant’s son is one of the leading journalists in the US. A Cuban immigrant is the Secretary of DHS…. we’re a nation of immigrants… pic.twitter.com/LIxiEGcTda

— Acyn (@Acyn) September 19, 2021

Acosta also asked Mayorkas about the "anti-immigrant nativist language" being that espoused by some on the right.

"Mr. Secretary, you're an immigrant yourself. Your family had to flee Cuba. My father is a Cuban refugee," Acosta said.

"When you hear folks like Tucker Carlson use that kind of rhetoric, what do you say to those voices out there who claim that immigrants are being brought into this country, that refugees are being brought into this country to replace other Americans to try to tilt the electoral map, for example, as one of the accusations that they make? What do you make of that kind of rhetoric?"

Mayorkas responded: "Jim, what I say is a Cuban immigrant son is one of the leading journalists in the United States of America.

"A Cuban immigrant is a secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. We're a nation of laws and we're a nation of immigrants. And that rhetoric will be overwhelmed by people who understand and execute our values and principles as a country."