Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are joining forces for a new bipartisan effort to help resettle Afghan refugees across the United States.
The three former presidents, along with former first lady Laura Bush, former first lady Michelle Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, are honorary co-chairs of the new Welcome.US, which brings together nearly 300 national organizations that aid refugees in areas including housing, language and skill building, access to education and more.
The program, while originally focusing on “Afghan families as they get settled and build new lives,” will soon become a “national effort to welcome refugees” from all over the globe, per an announcement on social media.
Welcome.US was co-founded by Cecilia Muñoz, who served as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under Obama, and John Bridgeland, who served in the same position in the Bush administration.
“Many of the refugees fleeing Afghanistan stood by America and risked everything for a chance at a better life,” former president Obama wrote on Twitter. “With the launch of http://Welcome.US, we can support our new Afghan neighbors and reaffirm our common humanity. I hope you'll join us."
Former president Clinton shared a similar message on social media, saying both he and Hillary Clinton are proud to join the “effort for Americans who want to support Afghan families as they rebuild their lives in the U.S.”
"Here’s a wonderful new way to help," Hillary Clinton wrote on Twitter.
Interested Americans can support the Welcome.US mission in a number of ways, one of which is donating time and/or money either directly to the organization’s Welcome Fund, to one of the nine national resettlement organizations or to a local agency working to help Afghan evacuees. Welcome.US created an easily-searchable database of hundreds of these organizations for individuals to choose from.
Americans who own Airbnb properties can volunteer their space as a temporary home for Afghans working to find permanent homes. Individuals and families can also volunteer as “community sponsors,” and assist in everyday tasks.
“By doing airport pick ups, making grocery runs, sharing a meal, offering advice on day-to-day decisions like schools, sports, and more, you can help a new neighbor build a new life in your community,” per the Welcome.US website.
The United States helped facilitate the evacuation of over 120,000 Afghans in the weeks leading up to Aug. 31, tens of thousands of whom have already arrived in the United States for resettlement. Still more Afghans await processing in transit locations around the world.