Ron Johnson tours Fort McCoy, criticizes vetting policy

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — As Sen. Ron Johnson and other lawmakers tour Fort McCoy, we are getting first word from the Department of Defense about what life is like for refugees inside.

The department says families are being kept together, as we do know there are women and children in the groups of refugees who have come over so far. A total of four mosques have also been set up for refugees, and Task Force McCoy is providing medical screening, including COVID testing for those who arrive at the base.

As we learn more about refugee operations inside Fort McCoy, so are Wisconsin politicians.

Governor Tony Evers and a handful of Wisconsin Republicans separately toured Fort McCoy Wednesday. Gov. Evers didn’t speak to the media during his trip, but Sen. Ron Johnson had plenty to say — and little of it was positive.

RELATED: Gov. Evers visits Fort McCoy, briefed on efforts to house Afghan refugees

The tour did little to settle Johnson’s concerns about the situation.

“It only takes one failure to destroy this mission,” Johnson said.

He spoke with reporters for about 30 minutes Wednesday morning after visiting Fort McCoy with state lawmakers. He criticized the Biden administration’s rushed pull out of Afghanistan, calling it a travesty.

“The mission is to bring American citizens back, bring back those people we want to bring out of danger that deserve to be brought out of danger and successfully integrate them into society,” Johnson said.

The senator also claims to have inside sources — who he would not identify — that make him worry about American safety in bringing refugees into Wisconsin. He claims there’s no firm plan to screen refugees.

“Maybe they’re taking biometrics now, but you need biometrics taken beforehand that you can compare them to,” Johnson said. “It would be nice if we knew everybody had even just an identification card. I’m hearing they don’t.”

Johnson says Fort McCoy has the capacity to host 10,000 people, and right now there are more than 1,000 refugees inside.

RELATED: Up to 10,000 refugees expected to come through Wisconsin

Democrats are taking a different approach, with Senator Tammy Baldwin reminding people in Madison Wednesday that the Badger State has a rich history of taking in refugees.

“I feel we have a moral obligation to provide those special immigrant visas and I’m proud, frankly, that Fort McCoy will be a site where many of these future refugee status individuals will be welcomed back,” Baldwin said.

Some veterans agree. Former Congressional candidate and outspoken Republican Jason Church sat down with News 3 Now’s Naomi Kowles for an interview for this weekend’s For The Record.

“We cannot let fear be what dictates how we interact with the people who are coming from Afghanistan,” Church said. “At what point are we as a people going to take responsibility for the messes we create? And I think we can start by the way we treat the people we promised and failed to deliver, with respect.”

You can see Church’s full interview on News 3 Now’s For The Record this Sunday at 10:30 a.m.