U.S. To Join With Private Groups In Helping Resettle Afghan Refugees

The U.S. State Department has announced that it will partner with private groups in order to help Afghans settle in the United States. The program will aim to create “sponsor circles,” meant to provide Afghans with financial and social support to help them settle into their new communities across America. The program has been launched in partnership with Community Sponsorship Hub, a private group, and will involve nonprofit resettlement agencies as well. Sarah Krause of Community Sponsorship Hub said in Reuters that the program will “help create enduring community bonds with the Afghans.”

Since August 17, approximately 76,600 people have arrived in the United States as part of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, with 53,000 people staying at Department of Defense installations around the country. Many of the immigrants would have been at risk under the new Taliban regime due to the assistance many of them had given American intelligence or other foreign agencies. “Thousands of Afghans stood with us on the front lines to push for a safer world, and now they need our help,” former President Bush and his wife Laura said in a statement, per Reuters. 

The State Department’s program announcement comes after former Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama announced their own refugee resettlement agency, Welcome.US. The program provides easy ways for Americans to donate, apply to host a refugee family, or find other ways to help. Welcome.US has received widespread support from both Democrats and Republicans, while many state and local leaders have expressed their own willingness to provide support for Afghan refugees. This development is quite different from the United States’ policies towards refugees during Donald Trump’s presidency, in which refugee acceptance was cut to its lowest rate in decades.

Many of the refugees are currently housed in American military bases around the world or on American soil in temporary Department of Defense installations around the country. Other refugees remain in processing centres near where they arrived in the United States, or still in third countries abroad. Welcome.US and the State Department’s joint effort with the Community Sponsorship Hub will allow the thousands of people stuck in uncertainty to receive both security in shelter and food, but also security by providing assurance about their futures. The programs have been urged by nonprofit resettlement agencies to resemble their Canadian counterparts, which emphasize private or community sponsorship of refugees and migrants.

The mass exodus of Afghan refugees to the United States occurred after President Biden announced American withdrawal from the country after 20 years of military involvement. The American withdrawal has left the Taliban in power in the country, becoming the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Scenes of Afghan people running after departing American military aircraft sums up the desire of Afghans to leave the country. The U.S. government launched a military operation named Operation Allies Welcome in order to provide assistance for Afghans who worked alongside the United States during their military operations over the past twenty years. The State Department program and Welcome.US are functions of Operation Allies Welcome.

The large initiative shown by the government of the United States to assist refugees from Afghanistan in escaping potential danger and offer resettlement in the United States is, at face value, a clear reversal from policies towards refugees under Donald Trump. However, one must not forget the actions taken towards Haitian asylum-seekers in the United States several weeks before, in which border patrol agents were photographed and filmed abusing Haitians. The United States’ benevolence towards Afghan refugees in this instance must be viewed with nuance, as the Afghans who are receiving government assistance helped the United States military in various capacities. As Kamala Harris was heard telling Guatemalans “Do not come” over the United States border to flee despairing economic conditions, and border patrol agents were seen harassing and abusing Haitian asylum-seekers, it seems as though the United States’ attitude towards refugees might be, “Well, what have you done for me lately?”