WASHINGTON, DC — Last week, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Don Bacon (R-NE)announced that President Biden signed a continuing resolution that included the Welcoming Evacuees Coming from Overseas to Mitigate Effects of Displacement Act of 2021, also known as the WELCOMED Act into law. The continuing resolution included $1.68 billion for Afghan resettlement and passed Congress Thursday night. It was signed by the president later in the evening.
Because Afghan refugees had to be resettled so quickly into the United States under humanitarian parole, many are not eligible for the government benefits America provides refugees entering through traditional processes like the Special Immigrant Visa program. The WELCOMED Act provides Afghan refugees on humanitarian parole with the benefits they need to start a life in the United States.
“This is a big deal,” said Rep. Moulton. “Now that the WELCOMED Act is officially law, thousands of Afghan evacuees — many who traveled halfway across the globe with nothing more than a suitcase — are now eligible to receive the job, housing and employment assistance they need to get on their feet and start new lives here in America. I am extremely grateful for my Democratic and Republican colleagues in Congress for helping push this bill to the finish line, and I’m looking forward to these Afghans becoming my friends and neighbors.”
“Our Afghan allies and those who were at risk will get the help they need to resettle here, after fleeing for their lives and leaving everything behind in Afghanistan,” said Rep. Bacon. “If we don’t, the weight will fall solely on local communities. It is right to ensure that we help those who have been vetted to start their new lives, free from the oppression of the Taliban.”
This bill was introduced in September by Moulton and Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE).
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, the Afghans who arrived to the United States under humanitarian parole 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. The WELCOME Act 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.
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.
Additionally, the passage of the Continuing Resolution averted a shutdown and extended government funding until December 3. The bill also directed billions of dollars for disaster relief following recent hurricanes and wildfires.
The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 65 to 35 on Thursday, with 15 Republicans voting to support it. In the House of Representatives, it passed 254 to 175.