Moulton, Bacon Introduce WELCOMED Act so Afghan Evacuees Receive Refugee Benefits
WASHINGTON — The Afghan refugees evacuated and resettled in the United States are facing a new challenge: they’re not eligible for the government benefits America traditionally provides refugees because of the rushed evacuation. Today, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Don Bacon (R-NE) introduced the Welcoming Evacuees Coming from Overseas to Mitigate Effects of Displacement Act of 2021, also known as the WELCOMED Act, to fix the problem. If passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, the bill will provide Afghan refugees with the same benefits other refugees have traditionally received.
Many of the Afghans recently evacuated to the United States came on humanitarian parole or through other expedited processes. The processes were necessary in order to move Afghans quickly out of harm’s way. But, it means that Afghans are not eligible for the reception and placement services that would equip them with the basic money and resources to resettle themselves and their families into the United States. This bill changes the wording of America’s refugee policies so that rescued Afghans are eligible for the basic services and resources that would be afforded to any other refugee.
“Evacuating more than 100,000 of our Afghan allies is an achievement but it’s only the first of many steps we need to take to make good on the promises we made when we told our friends that we’d protect them from the Taliban,” said Rep. Moulton. “For Congressman Bacon and me, that work starts today. I want these heroes as a neighbor, and I want to make sure they have the chance to live out the American Dream. This bill will help them take the first steps of their new lives.”
“Our Afghan allies and those who were at risk and were able to get here will need help to resettle here, after fleeing for their lives and leaving everything behind in Afghanistan,” said Rep. Bacon. “This legislation is the first step in helping those who have been vetted to start their new lives without worry of being hunted down by the Taliban or ISIS.”
The WELCOMED Act is supported by several original cosponsors, including: Representative Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Representative Donald Beyer (D-VA), Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Representative Ed Case (D-HI), Representative Judy Chu (D-CA), Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN), Representative Jason Crow (D-CO), Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Representative Sara Jacobs (D-CA), Representative William Keating (D-MA), Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA), Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA), Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI), Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Representative Eleanor Norton (D-DC), Representative Deborah Ross (D-NC) and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT).
Since 2015, Congressman Moulton has been a fierce advocate for Afghan allies and refugees. Beginning with calls on America’s leaders to expand the SIV program, in an effort to evacuate our Afghan partners well ahead of the withdrawal date and avoid the refugee crisis we’re facing today. At the start of this year, he ramped up this advocacy by calling on the administration to evacuate Afghan allies before the withdrawal date. This includes leading a letter to the White House calling for immediate evacuation, raising the issue directly with General Milley and Secretary Austin during a hearing, and after not receiving answers, releasing his own evacuation plan and offering it to the administration.