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Montana Republicans call for a halt to Afghan refugee resettlement in the state

Montana’s Republican congressional delegation and governor are calling on the Biden administration to stop resettling Afghans in the state after an Afghan man was charged with rape in Missoula.

Gov. Greg Gianforte, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale are asking President Joe Biden for details on how his administration is vetting Afghans coming to Montana. In the meantime, the Republicans each asked that the Biden Administration stop sending Afghans fleeing from the Taliban here.

During a press conference last week, Gianforte was asked why he made the request.

“I called on the Biden administration to assure us that these refugees are fully vetted," he said. "It’s not clear to us that that occurred in this situation."

According to charging documents filed in Missoula County Justice Court last week, Zabihullah Mohmand met a woman at a bar in downtown Missoula. Court documents say the 19-year-old and the woman went back to his hotel room, where he allegedly raped her.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says Afghans fleeing the Taliban are thoroughly vetted and “criminal behavior is not tolerated.” The agency says violators are subject to prosecution and may be removed from the country.

The International Rescue Committee, a group resettling Afghans across the country, says the alleged actions of one person are not reflective of refugee or immigrant communities. The group has welcomed immigrant families for decades and says they’ve contributed to their communities.

The organization told MTPR that Montana has 75 spots open for Afghans fleeing the Taliban through a new immigration process.

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