As tens of thousands of Afghan refugees arrive in the United States as part of a US evacuation after a 20 year long war in Afghanistan, three former US presidents – Republican George W Bush and Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – have come together to help them.
In a bid to support the Afghans settling in the United States following the recent American withdrawal, the former leaders and their wives will be a part of Welcome.US, a coalition of advocacy groups, US businesses and other leaders. Many of them would have been at risk had they remained under the Taliban after their work with US and allied troops or with American and international agencies.
Launched on Tuesday, the initiative has a website that will be “a single point of entry,” which will make it easier for Americans to donate, host a refugee family through the home rental app Airbnb Inc or find other ways to help.
John Bridgeland, an official in former President George W Bush‘s administration and co-chair of the effort, while introducing the group said this at a media event.
“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.
However, there has been a bipartisan outpouring of support for Afghan refugees, including Republican and Democratic governors who have signed onto the effort. Although a number of US state and local leaders are willing to welcome refugees into their communities, immigration remains a divisive issue in parts of the country.
Under former Republican President Donald Trump, refugee admissions from around the world had been at the lowest levels in decades, a policy that Democrat President Joe Biden has pledged to reverse.
Welcome.US also draws support from more than 280 people and entities, including US businesses such as Microsoft Corp, Starbucks Corp and Walmart Inc, as well as numerous nonprofit organizations, veterans’ groups and resettlement agencies.
Biden’s administration on its part is working to accommodate as many as 50,000 refugees on military bases in the United States. Others remain in processing centers near US airports where they landed, and more evacuees are in US installations or stuck in third countries abroad.