Obamas, Bushes and Clintons team up to help Afghan refugees

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By Betsy Klein, CNN

The Presidents Club is joining forces to support a massive, bipartisan effort to host and assist Afghan refugees launched Tuesday.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – along with former First Ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama – are honorary co-chairs of the Welcome.US group.

Welcome.US, the group said in a press release, aims to “get all Americans to welcome and support refugees, starting with the individuals and families who have fled Afghanistan,” following the American withdrawal Country in the past few weeks. After the largest military evacuation in history, the Biden government is now tasked with relocating more than 60,000 Afghan refugees to the United States over the next few weeks.

Approximately 17% of those who have already arrived are US citizens and legal permanent residents and can reach their destination without passing through military bases. The rest, however, will go to bases for medical screening – including Covid-19 vaccinations – before being relocated to communities across the country.

Welcome.US has gathered past presidents – as well as a bipartisan group of governors including Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, and Democratic Colorado Governor Jared Polis, and other leaders – to serve as a focal point for public and private endeavors to aid in the massive effort to help Afghan refugees make a living in the United States. It will connect and coordinate efforts between state and local governments as well as nonprofits, corporations, universities and others, the group said.

It will provide grants to nonprofits and launch a six-digit publicity campaign “to highlight the need for all Americans to join the thousands of people who have already volunteered to welcome our new Afghan neighbors as they settle and rebuild” . her new life. ”That effort, the group said in the press release, includes providing accommodation support through Airbnb; Meals through Instacart; Grants from Walmart, Starbucks, and Microsoft; and promotional credits from Facebook to promote the organization.

“Thousands of Afghans have been on the front lines with us to push for a safer world and now they need our help,” the Bushs said in a statement about the organization. “We are proud to support Welcome.US and the work to help Afghan families settle in and build a new life. We are ready to show our new Afghan neighbors and the rest of the world how a welcoming and generous spirit forms the backbone of what makes our country great. “

It wasn’t immediately clear whether former Presidents Donald Trump or Jimmy Carter had been invited to join the effort, and a spokesman for the group did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Clinton and Obama joined President Joe Biden to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City on Saturday. Bush spoke with Vice President Kamala Harris at another 9/11 celebration in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

However, Trump recalled the 20th anniversary in a short video praising first responders and berating Biden for handling the withdrawal from Afghanistan before commenting on a boxing match.

Bush, meanwhile, used his statements in Pennsylvania to criticize Trump without naming him directly.

“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” Bush said on Saturday. “But in their contempt for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same evil spirit,” an apparent reference to the violent uprising in the US Capitol on January 6th.

It is not the first attempt at a crisis in which former presidents have come together for a common cause.

Bush and Clinton came together in 2005 to raise funds for those affected by the tsunami in Indonesia and in 2010 re-established the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to support long-term recovery from a catastrophic earthquake in that country.

The CNN Wire
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