Democrats seek to spend billions on welfare for Afghan evacuees (but nothing on protecting the border)
09/23/2021 // Mary Villareal // Views

Democrats are looking to spend billions in taxpayer money to ensure that newly arrived Afghans have access to welfare, housing assistance and medical services.

House Democrats recently published their plan to fund a number of federal agencies, including making sure that Afghans arriving in the U.S. on humanitarian parole are given the same public benefits typically reserved to those on refugee status.

The plan would specifically give "resettlement assistance, entitlement programs and other benefits" to the tens of thousands of Afghans on parole. This would open the scope of who would be eligible for such benefits to include those who may arrive in the U.S. after September 2022, such as spouses or children of newly arrived Afghans.

The plan will use around $21.5 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide them with medical support, screening, and other public health-related activities.

Another $1.7 billion will go to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This will be used for grants or contracts with qualified nonprofit organizations to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services such as wrap-around services during temporary housing and after resettlement, housing assistance, medical assistance, legal assistance, and case management assistance.

President Joe Biden said that he hopes to resettle around 95,000 Afghans across the U.S. over the next year. In a 21-day period from August to September, he already brought over 48,000 into the U.S. for resettlement.


States learning how many evacuees they are taking in

The Biden administration began notifying governors and state refugee coordinators about the number of evacuees their states will receive from the first group of nearly 37,000 arrivals.

California is projected to take in the most number of evacuees at more than 5,200 people.

Alabama and Mississippi are each set to welcome ten, while Hawaii, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia are not expected to resettle anyone from the first group.

The administration requested funding from Congress to help resettle 65,000 Afghans in the U.S. by the end of the month, and 95,000 by September 2022. Biden also tapped the former governor of his home state in Delaware to temporarily serve as his point person on resettling evacuees in the nation.

States with a historically large number of Afghans who resettled in the U.S. in the last 20 years, such as California, Maryland, Texas and Virginia, are again welcoming disproportionate numbers of evacuees -- these areas also have the most expensive housing markets in the country.

Oklahoma, on the other hand, had resettled a relatively small number of Afghans in the past and is slated to resettle 1,800 arrivals.

Many of the new evacuees requested to be resettled in the aforementioned states because they already have family and close friends living nearby. Resettlement agencies also have a large presence and capacity in these areas.

The State Department is resettling evacuees based on the advice of local affiliates of nine national resettlement agencies that the government is working with. Officials said that evacuees have been advised that other parts of the country, including those with plentiful job openings and cheaper housing, could be good places to resettle in. (Related: Botched withdrawal traps 10,000 Americans in Afghanistan: Biden admits he can't do anything about it.)

Resettlement process

The Afghan evacuees will go through a coordinated process from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)where they will be vetted before being admitted. Every evacuee that goes in the U.S. also goes through health screening. Those who are 12 and older have been required to get COVID-19 vaccinations as a term for their humanitarian parolee status.

The process is not without complications.

U.S.-bound flights for evacuees who had been staying in third-world country processing sites were halted after measles cases were discovered among several Afghans who recently arrived on U.S. soil.

Evacuees are also not yet eligible for food stamps, cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, Medicaid, or other traditional refugee services funded through the HHS.

Afghan evacuees are slated to receive $1,225 each to help with rent, furniture, food and a small amount of pocket money. Biden also called on Congress to take action and ensure that the recent arrivals have access to the same benefits as refugees.

Read more about the fall of Afghanistan and the efforts of the U.S. government to support evacuees at

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