Human Rights First Lauds Introduction of WELCOMED Act for Afghan Refugees
WASHINGTON — Human Rights First lauds today’s introduction by Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Don Bacon (R-NE) of The Welcoming Evacuees Coming from Overseas to Mitigate Effects of Displacement Act of 2021, or WELCOMED Act. The bipartisan legislation would provide necessary assistance to Afghan refugees arriving in the United States under “humanitarian parole” following the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
““This legislation is vital to ensuring our Afghan allies receive the welcome and integration services they need as they settle into their new lives in the United States,” said Jennifer Quigley, Human Rights First’s Senior Director for Government Affairs. “Our nation’s moral obligation goes far beyond evacuating these allies. We can and must ensure Afghan refugees arriving through humanitarian parole are assisted with resettlement and set up for success in their new home.”
Under current law, parole designation for Afghans arriving in the United States allows beneficiaries to stay and apply for temporary work authorization here, but it does not provide a direct pathway to permanent residency nor access to certain federal programs designed to help refugees integrate into communities.
The WELCOMED Act would ensure all Afghan parolees have access to the same resettlement services as refugees who are resettled through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) or holders of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). Resettlement services include refugee medical assistance, English-language classes, housing assistance, job training and help to enroll children in school.
“This legislation is good news for Afghan evacuees and the veteran community that is ready to support them,” said Chris Purdy, Director of Human Rights First’s Veterans for American Ideals initiative. “It shows that our government will be a strong partner with veterans who would have otherwise carried the burden of keeping America’s promise to our Afghan allies. With this legislation, the U.S. government is working to make this right.”