Three former U.S. presidents – Republican George W. Bush and Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – have joined forces to encourage Afghan refugees living in the United States following the recent American withdrawal that ended a 20-year conflict.
The former leaders and their wives will be members of Welcome.US, a partnership of advocacy groups, corporations in the United States, and other leaders.
It launched on Tuesday with a website that will be “a single point of entry,” to make it easier for Americans to donate, host a refugee family through the home rental app Airbnb Inc (ABNB.O) or find other ways to help, John Bridgeland, an official in former President George W. Bush’s administration and co-chair of the effort, said at a media event.
Tens of thousands of Afghans have already arrived in the United States as part of a U.S. evacuation. Many of them would have been at risk had they remained under the Taliban after their work with U.S. and allied troops or with American and international agencies.
“Thousands of Afghans stood with us on the front lines to push for a safer world, and now they need our help,” Bush and his wife Laura said in a statement.
Organizers said there has been a bipartisan outpouring of support for Afghan refugees, including Republican and Democratic governors who have signed onto the effort.
Several state and municipal officials in the United States have stated that they would welcome refugees into their communities, despite the fact that immigration remains a contentious topic in some regions of the country.
Former Republican President Donald Trump reduced refugee admissions from around the world to their lowest levels in decades, a policy that Democratic President Joe Biden has committed to restore.
Welcome. US is also supported by over 280 persons and companies, including U.S. enterprises such as Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O), and Walmart Inc (WMT.N), as well as various charitable organisations, veterans’ groups, and resettlement agencies.
Biden’s government is planning to accommodate up to 50,000 refugees on American military facilities. Others remain in processing centres near U.S. airports where they landed, while additional evacuees are in U.S. installations or are detained in third-world countries.
Some refugee organisations have been advocating for the United States to adopt a private or community sponsorship scheme for individual refugees, similar to the model utilised in Canada, and see this coordinated nationwide volunteer effort as a way to kick-start that process.
“We want to take advantage of this moment and the great need to access all the capacity out there in the United States to support Afghan evacuees,” Nazanin Ash of the International Rescue Committee said at Tuesday’s launch.