Washington — Three of the nation's four most recent former presidents are coming together to offer their support to a new organization that aims to assist Afghan evacuees who are resettling in the United States after fleeing Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, are joining Welcome.US as honorary co-chairs "to lift up everyone else involved and remind us that this is our opportunity, in a time of all too much division, for common purpose," the group's website states.
The organization, which launched Tuesday, also boasts a welcome council composed of former and current government officials from both parties, military and business leaders, and activists. It brings together a coalition of organizations helping Afghan allies as they arrive in the U.S. and businesses making financial or in-kind contributions to resettlement efforts.
Welcome.US billed itself as a "first of its kind national organization that will engage Americans and mobilize support across sectors for Afghan refugees" and said in a press release it will provide a "single point of entry for Americans who want to get involved" with helping Afghans who have fled the country.
After the Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan, the Biden administration launched the largest military evacuation in U.S. history, airlifting more than 122,000 people from the main airport in Kabul, including roughly 5,500 Americans, before President Biden's August 31 deadline forfrom Afghanistan.
The administration now is tasked with, overwhelming the U.S. refugee resettlement system. Since mid-August, the U.S. has admitted roughly 24,000 of the Afghans it relocated from Kabul, and most are being temporarily housed at eight military installations, where they undergo medical screenings and additional processing. Another approximately 39,000 have remained at military bases in Europe and the Middle East.
After the Afghan evacuees complete their processing at the military bases, they are connected with resettlement agencies, which help them find affordable housing and jobs. But the volume of refugees arriving in the U.S. has, prompting the groups to secure short-term lodging through hotel chains and Airbnb rentals.