Orange County Board of Supervisors Urges Biden to Support Afghan Refugees

By Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
August 24, 2021 Updated: August 26, 2021

The Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution urging President Joe Biden to extend extra support toward Afghan refugees seeking to flee the Taliban’s violent regime.

“This is our commitment as a country to that fight that we have always espoused, which is the fight for democracy, for basic human dignity, for human rights, and opportunity and justice for all,” Chairman Andrew Do said at the Aug. 24 meeting.

“We don’t have to surmise; we don’t have to imagine we have seen things that have happened under these totalitarian regimes. We have seen the Uyghurs being incarcerated en masse in China. We have seen genocides played out over and over, whether they’re communists or there’s some kind of totalitarian under whatever philosophy … the damage they’ve done to their people.”

Do, along with Vice Chair Doug Chaffee, created a three-step plan in an attempt to convey to Biden and Congress the need to support and increase the capacity for refugees that can enter the United States to include an extra 100,000. The current capacity set by Biden on May 3 is 62,500.

The supervisors also called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to expedite the process for immigration applications and grant immigration parole status to refugees arriving from Afghanistan.

The final step of the plan is to provide housing centers around the country formed through partnerships with organizations to support refugees.

Do reflected on his experience during the Vietnam War and the support brought to refugees by the United States, requesting that the same support be extended to Afghans.

“The process that we went through to process the Vietnamese refugees should be used here, which is the refugees can be flown into the U.S. under this immigration parole status, be housed in processing centers … I would say around the country, and then once they have been screened and cleared,” Do said. “Then third, the federal government to establish partnerships with private organizations and nonprofit entities to support refugee settlement in communities across the U.S.”

Chaffee joined Do in support voicing to his colleagues the importance of adopting the emergency resolution.

“The reason why we must act now is [due to the] danger the people in Afghanistan [are facing]. … The Taliban has said that they will cut things off at the end of this month,” Chaffee said. “Perhaps some additional time will be allowed, but there’s no guarantee. Taliban is closely allied with Al Qaeda, and we know what they did to our people on 9/11. This regime and its allies have no respect for life or liberty that does not conform. It’s important that we move forward as quickly as we can to help as many people as possible.”

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett added, “This is certainly very timely and the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse by the day. We were notified this morning that the Taliban will no longer offer Afghans to go to Kabul airport for evacuation. So now they are forced to look at other alternatives from other areas.”

While the future is uncertain, he said, Supervisor Don Wagner expressed his concern toward Afghanistan and insisted that Afghans not be stranded to face the “horrors” that await them.

Supervisor Katrina Foley stood with the women of Afghanistan as the country is foreseen to take a step back.

“The girls and the women in Afghanistan are already under attack,” Foley said. “Twenty years of work towards freedoms and the rights that we all enjoy here, without even blinking about it are being stripped away. Girls already are being forced into marriages, women who work in banks and businesses and who are educators being locked out of their employment, … women and girls being targeted if they do not comply with the extremely restrictive, anti-woman misogynistic values of the Taliban.”

An Afghan American residing in the county stood for public comment, discussing the crisis his family is facing overseas.

Fayaz Nawani, Afghan American policy and advocacy member for the Los Angeles Council on American–Islamic Relations, said his father is an American stuck in Afghanistan.

“My family was displaced when the communist regime took over in the 1970s, and we became refugees and came to the U.S. searching for peace, searching for an opportunity to work and raise our raise our children in a safe environment,” Nawani told the board.

“My father is currently in Kabul trying to get out; he’s a US citizen. So just one of the recent conversations I had with him, he said as he was about [to go] through the checkpoint. A mother gave her daughter—an infant daughter—to him, and she said please hold my daughter because my other child is lost. I can’t find him. This is what’s happening right now at the airport. … We would love to see that refugee camp increased by 100,000. There’s 88,000 individuals that work at the various embassies as mail clerks and different capacities. So we would love to see these individuals be offered an opportunity to come to this country as refugees. There are many unaccompanied minors also that we want to make sure that they are protected and are not victims of human trafficking during this dire time.”

According to a tweet posted by The White House, the United States has evacuated 58,700 people since Aug. 14 and relocated 63,900 people since the end of July.

“What we do today, and hopefully it will percolate up to the federal government, will spur us as a nation to move quickly,” Do said.

Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna