FORT MCCOY — Republican members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation say Fort McCoy may house up to 3,000 Afghan refugees by the end of Friday.
Following a driving tour of the base, the delegation told reporters outside the main gate that there were already around 2,000 refugees inside as of Friday afternoon.
"We saw some out going to the commissary, getting food. We saw some children out playing with American soldiers. We saw some talking on cellphones," said Rep. Mike Gallagher, 8th District.
Gallagher and the rest of the delegation - Representatives Bryan Steil, Scott Fitzgerald, Glenn Grothman and Thomas Tiffany - were there to discuss the resettlement program for Afghan refugees and see where they're living.
According to the delegation, they're living in well-kept barracks on the installment, which can house up to 10,000 refugees if necessary.
According to a recent Suffolk University, USA Today poll, more than 80 percent of Americans support the relocation of refugees and their families who worked with the U.S. in Afghanistan.
"We have enormous sympathy for those who work with us, who fought with us," said Rep. Gallagher.
But there are still concerns about national security, highlighted, the lawmakers say, by Thursday's attack at Kabul Airport.
"As a Marine, my heart breaks for the 12 Marines and the Navy Corpsman who were killed," said Rep. Gallagher.
The suicide bombing killed around 100 Afghans as well, as they waited desperately to get into the airport with hopes of fleeing their country.
"Are they [the U.S. government] doing a thorough vetting, because we cannot have terror imported into the United States here," said Rep. Tim Tiffany, 7th District.
According to the White House, anyone entering the U.S. from Afghanistan has been vetted, both in a third country and upon arrival in the U.S.
Gov. Tony Evers, after his visit to Fort McCoy on Wednesday, said the refugees have been vetted several times.
The delegation at the base on Friday said they were told the refugees, after certain educational and integration programs, may be placed anywhere in the country within two to four weeks.