Swalwell said he spoke with the secretaries of state and defense on Aug. 15, and they had pledged to look into ways of streamlining applications. “Of course, we want to honor the interpreters who worked with us on the battlefield through the special immigration visa,” he added.
The New York Times reported that 18,000 Afghans have been caught "in bureaucratic limbo" after applying for special immigrant visas — available to those facing threats as a result of working for the U.S. government.
On Aug. 25, U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, joined 28 senators in writing a letter urging the Biden administration to expedite efforts to evacuate Afghans at risk . Previously, Padilla said his office would work with the State Department to process special immigration visa requests “as expeditiously as possible,” in a statement released Aug. 16.
We've compiled some additional resources to support Afghans and Afghan Americans in the U.S. and abroad:
Support a local or international organization
Jewish Family and Community Services, East Bay
JFCS East Bay has already welcomed dozens of people from Afghanistan to begin new lives in the East Bay, and in an Aug. 20 update said they expected dozens more Afghans to arrive this week, noting that they often get very little notice before being called to meet arriving planes.
The organization has an Amazon wish list where items can be shipped to their Concord office and distributed to refugees directly.
"We are also especially in need of gift cards to low-cost grocery stores like FoodMaxx or Grocery Outlet or Target," Ami Dodson, who coordinates volunteer services, wrote in an email to KQED. "We have actually been inundated with responses. This community is so compassionate and generous," Dodson said.
Director of Refugee Services Fouzia Azizi thanked the thousands of Bay Area residents who have offered their help so far. "Each of these actions ensure that our new neighbors are welcomed with dignity and care," Azizi wrote on the JFCS website. "We are overwhelmed by your heartfelt desire to help the new arrivals move from trauma to comfort."
Those interested in donating furniture can reach out to her via email (email@example.com) with a photo of what they'd like to donate. Dodson said they do not have a pickup service available, so donations would need to be delivered to their storage unit in Walnut Creek. They are also unable to take queen- or king-size mattresses, sofas/couches, or other large or heavy items.
They are also requesting volunteers to sign up through this Google Form to assist case managers with airport pickups, signing up for social services and providing language support.
Financial donations can also be made here.
City of Fremont Afghan Refugee Fund
The City of Fremont, home to one of the largest Afghan communities in the country, has established a fund through the Human Services Department. The fund is specifically for direct assistance to Afghan refugees arriving in Fremont, Newark and Union City.
Donations can be made here.
International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee, which operates branches in Oakland as well as internationally, has launched a $10 million appeal to raise funds for the emergency response to ensure aid can still be provided within Afghanistan, as well as to continue to provide support and protection for internally displaced people in Kabul.
“Humanitarians like the IRC have remained in Afghanistan through crisis after crisis and have proven remarkably effective in delivering impartial and principled responses in challenging operating environments," said Amanda Catanzano, IRC senior director for international programs policy and advocacy, in a press release on Aug. 15.
Donations can be made here.
Support a 'Scholars at Risk' fund
A 'Scholars at Risk' fund has been created by UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center, in partnership with San José State's Human Rights Institute and the UC Berkeley Afghan Student Association. The fund is specifically “to respond to the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and the urgent need to help journalists, lawyers, and other academics—especially women—flee the country.”
Their goal is to raise $100,000 by August 27. If that number is reached, the UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Research Office has pledged to match it in an effort to enable emergency travel and placement in the Bay Area.
Volunteer as a U.S.-based attorney for pro bono cases
This Google form is an effort to put individuals who have immigration questions related to Afghanistan in contact with attorneys.