The Orange County Supervisory Board is calling on President Joe Biden to increase the ceiling on refugees brought to that country to include 100,000 more Afghan refugees.
The board voted unanimously at Tuesday’s town hall on an impromptu resolution in favor of a three-step plan for the resettlement of Afghan refugees in the United States after the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban earlier this month.
“It is our commitment, as a country, in this fight that we have always espoused, which is the fight for democracy, for fundamental human dignity, for human rights, and for opportunity and justice. for all, ”Supervisor Chairman Andrew Do said at the meeting. , who worked on the resolution with Supervisor Doug Chaffee.
He added: “When we lend our voice, lend our resources to help these refugees, we are telling the world that we are with you and that this message of hope is enormous. This is so important because there will be millions left who will have to live with the carnage of this broken system, now in Afghanistan, and for 46 years in Vietnam, as well as in other parts of the world. “
Do and his family fled Vietnam in 1975 a day before the fall of Saigon with the help of the US military.
In a opinion piece released by the OC Registry, he urged Biden and Congress to act quickly and create a process to admit Afghan refugees and establish resettlement opportunities for them in the United States.
“As Americans of Vietnamese descent watch the heartbreaking images of Kabul airport, we relive the trauma and deep pain felt during Black April 1975,” the opinion piece read.
As part of the plan, the resolution calls for resources to be allocated to the US Department of Homeland Security to expedite the process of all immigration applications and for the US Department of Justice to grant parole to Afghan refugees.
The OC’s board support for refugees follows the United States which has helped evacuate about 58,700 people from Afghanistan since mid-August, according to a Tweet from the White House.
U.S. troops are expected to withdraw from Afghanistan by August 31 after two decades of war aimed at targeting Al Qaeda’s presence in the country after September 11.
Biden faces pressure from Allied forces and lawmakers here to extend the August 31 deadline as thousands attempt to flee Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, according to the Washington Post.
Chaffee and Do are holding a press conference tomorrow at the Asian Garden Mall in Westminster from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. regarding their relocation plan.
Biden defined the capping refugee admissions to 62,500 people earlier this year.
The situation in Afghanistan closely affects many people in Orange County.
Fayaz Nawabi, an Afghan American and policy and advocacy officer for the Council on American Islamic Relations – Greater Los Angeles, said his own father, a US citizen, was stuck in Afghanistan.
“One of the recent conversations I had with them. He said just as he was about to go through the checkpoint, a mother gave him her daughter, a little girl, and she said please hold my daughter because my other child is lost. I can not find it. That’s what’s happening at the airport right now, ”Nawabi said at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Between 2015 and 2019, there were more than 41,000 Afghan immigrants in California including 3,300 in Orange County, according to the Institute for Migrant Policy.
Supervisors Lisa Bartlett and Katrina Foley said people contacted them with family members trying to flee the country.
“Once the refugees get here, we can offer a lot of services from a county perspective. We have to get them out of Afghanistan first, ”supervisor Lisa Bartlett said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Every day is essential to bring these people, families, mothers, fathers and children out of Afghanistan and bring them to a safer environment. “
Foley said the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was “possibly the most significant humanitarian crisis of our time” and said the women and girls of Afghanistan must be helped.
“Girls and women in Afghanistan are already under attack. 20 years of working for the freedoms and rights we all enjoy here, without even blinking, are being stripped, ”she said.
The resolution also calls on the federal government to partner with nonprofit organizations to support the resettlement of refugees in communities across the country.
Access California Services – a health and social services organization – issued a press release last week saying they were ready to help asylum seekers in Orange County and Los Angeles.
They will hold an open door policy for the Afghan community to receive financial support, mental health services and immigration.
“Our team is prepared and ready to provide all the services necessary to continue helping the Afghan community at this time,” Founder and Executive Director Nahla Kayali said in the statement.
Hosam Elattar is a member of Voice of OC Reporting. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.