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Stitt, Lankford Say Oklahoma Welcomes Afghan Refugees

Chris Polansky
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) addresses reporters at a campaign event on Wednesday, Aug. 18, at the University of Tulsa.

Two prominent Republican voices in Oklahoma said Wednesday the state should and will welcome Afghan refugees who assisted the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and are now seeking safety from the new Taliban government. 

"Governor Stitt welcomes Afghans fleeing the terrorist Taliban regime to come to Oklahoma and live in the freedom we hold so dearly," Stitt spokeswoman Carly Atchison said in a statement. "Our office is exploring every possible avenue to help to ensure no American citizen nor any of our allies are left behind."

At a campaign event alongside former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the University of Tulsa on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. James Lankford said the same.

"I've heard overwhelmingly from Afghan veterans," Lankford said. "For those folks who fought in Afghanistan, they know full well what it was like to have those translators and those other folks around them, and the number one thing I've heard from folks that are veterans of the war in Afghanistan is, 'I want those folks that worked side by side to be able to come to the United States.' So they should be welcomed and they will be welcomed here."

"We need to get those folks out. They are refugees. They talk about them as translators and friends. They say they know exactly what kind of people that they are and how they have a love for freedom, and we told them if they fought alongside us we would help them get to America," Lankford said.

The office of Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma's senior Republican U.S. senator, did not return a request for comment on whether he supported Afghan refugees being resettled in Oklahoma, but in a Monday statement called on President Biden to "focus, without distraction, on helping our military secure the safety of American citizens, the Afghans who have stood by us, and our partners and allies."

Lankford, Inhofe and Stitt have all been highly critical of Biden's handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, with Stitt saying it was an example of the president's "pattern of poor judgment," Lankford saying Biden had no "coherent plan," and Inhofe saying Biden "has placed our troops in an extremely and unnecessarily dangerous situation."

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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