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Obama, Bush and Clinton team up to help Afghan refugees

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as former First Ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, are Honorary Co-Chairs of Welcome.US.

Welcome.US, the group said in a press release, aims to engage “all Americans to welcome and support refugees, starting with individuals and families who fled Afghanistan” after the US withdrawal from the nation in recent weeks. After the largest military evacuation in history, the Biden administration is now tasked with resettling more than 60,000 Afghan refugees in the United States over the coming weeks.

About 17% of those who have already arrived are U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and can get to their destination without first passing through military bases. The rest, however, will go to bases to receive medical screening – including Covid-19 vaccinations – before being relocated to communities across the country.

Welcome.US brought together past presidents – along with a bipartisan group of governors, including Republican Gov. of Maryland Larry Hogan and Democratic Gov. of Colorado Jared Polis, and other leaders – to serve as a central point of contact for the public and private efforts to aid in the massive effort to help Afghan refugees as they establish their lives in the United States. It will link and coordinate efforts between state and local governments, as well as nonprofits, businesses, universities and others, according to the group.

It will provide grants to nonprofits and launch a six-figure advertising campaign “to highlight the need for all Americans to join the thousands of people who have already stepped up to welcome our new Afghan neighbors as they s ‘settle in and build their new life. ” Among these efforts, the group also said in the press release, housing support through Airbnb; meals via Instacart; grants from Walmart, Starbucks and Microsoft; and advertising credits from Facebook to promote the organization.

“Thousands of Afghans have stood with us on the front lines to push for a more secure world, and now they need our help,” the Bushes said in a statement on the organization. “We are proud to support Welcome.US and the work to help Afghan families settle down 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 is the backbone of what makes our country so great. “

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

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

Trump, however, commemorated the 20th anniversary in a short video in which he praised first responders and lambasted Biden for handling the withdrawal from Afghanistan, before commenting on a boxing match.

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

“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 contempt for human life, in their determination to sully national symbols, they are like-minded infants,” an apparent reference to the violent insurgency on the US Capitol on January 6.

This is not the first crisis effort where 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 again in 2010 to create the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to help long-term recovery from a catastrophic earthquake in this country.