Sen. Cruz slams Blinken over Afghan child brides

Sen. Ted Cruz confronted Secretary of State Antony Blinken about child brides being brought to the United States from Afghanistan amid the chaotic withdrawal by the Biden administration, demanding to know what guidance the State Department has been provided to rescue minors among the evacuees that have been victims of sexual abuse.

The Texas Republican argued that the Biden administration has failed to properly vet Afghans who were evacuated and brought to the United States following the fall of the country’s government to the Taliban, potentially bringing “a humanitarian crisis to America.”

“Not only did you fail to evacuate Americans and green card holders who were there, but you also brought in tens of thousands of Afghans who had wholly inadequate vetting, bringing many of them to the United States.,” Cruz charged during an often heated Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Tuesday.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to examine the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan on Sept. 14, 2021.
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Drew Angerer/Pool via REUTERS

“And one of the things that has done is that has brought in a humanitarian crisis to America. Child marriage and domestic abuse tragically are widespread in Afghanistan,” he said.

Cruz noted that the World Health Organization reports that more than half of the women in Afghanistan are married as child brides, and 90 percent of women are subject to domestic abuse.

“On Aug. 27, according to public reports, you distributed internal documentation, highlighting numerous instances and intake centers of sexual abuse, in which much older grown Afghan males appeared with children, young children, claimed they were their brides, claimed they were their wives. And the documents said the State Department urgently requested guidance.”

Cruz then demanded answers on whether the State Department had received the requested guidance or could provide information on whether there was a plan to prevent the sexual abuse of minors.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) questions U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Cruz it was “absolutely” an urgent matter.
Drew Angerer/Pool via REUTERS

“My question is as follows: Did you receive that urgent guidance? How many children have been subject to sexual abuse? What have you done to rescue young children from illegal and abusive relationships after being brought to America by the State Department?” Cruz said.

Blinked said he was unaware of the “specific guidance you’re referring to,” but “happy to look at it,” adding that the officers are looking into cases of concern.

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“Across the entire government, everyone involved in the evacuation effort whether it’s at a transit point, in one of the countries that we negotiated with, whether it’s here in the United States at Dulles, or Philadelphia, or the military bases, we have all of our officers at extreme vigilance to look for and to deal with any cases or concerns that arise,” Blinken replied.

Cruz went on to press Blinken on the level of urgency the State Department had toward addressing the matter and the number of cases it was aware of.

Blinken said it was “absolutely” an urgent matter, and that they are aware of “a handful” of cases.

 “We could detect and deal with any cases. And there have been, to my knowledge, a limited number of cases where we have separated people because we were concerned,” he said.

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