America Must Support Afghan Children Seeking Refuge
For Immediate Release:
September 2, 2021
The Children’s Partnership is calling on the United States leadership to act courageously and morally to ensure Afghan refugees, children (some who fled alone) and families who have been forced to flee their homes are welcomed safely into the United States. Access to critical resources like health care, education and food are basic human rights that we must work to ensure Afghans receive. People seeking safety in America — whether evacuated from Afghanistan or arriving at the border — should be welcomed with dignity. The U.S. must uphold its values and moral obligation of inclusion for all and support all who are escaping harm and seeking a better, safer life by assisting in their resettlement.
The actions by the Biden administration at this time will reverberate throughout history. We must do everything we can to create safe and welcoming communities, and protect Afghans in danger of facing xenophobic policies and attacks. It is evident that current and historic national anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are impacting the health of children in immigrant families. Our research has demonstrated that a hostile environment for immigrant parents and children contribute to heightened stress, fear, anxiety and depression, leading to disproportionate health outcomes in historically marginalized children. Today’s crisis demands that we continue to repair and reimagine our refugee and asylum systems in order to welcome and protect all people fleeing persecution and violence, including the thousands of Afghans facing imminent dangers.
Right now, we have an immediate opportunity to empower refugees by building a bridge between them and the resources they need to begin establishing a life here in America. Below are essential state and federal benefits that Afghan children and refugees can access immediately upon their arrival in California.
Afghan children have a right to a free public education, including other services and programs provided through the public school system, such as free lunches and special education programs.
These children and families are also eligible to enroll in full-scope health care coverage through Medi-Cal.
Afghan refugee children and their families are eligible for cash assistance, medical assistance, employment preparation, job placement, English language training and other services offered through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). They are also eligible for federal “mainstream” (non-ORR funded) benefits, including Medicaid and food assistance through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They can also receive support for resettlement and getting access to health, cash, and food benefits through a program offered by the California Department of Social Services.
We at The Children’s Partnership welcome refugees with open arms and will fight for this belief to be reflected in policy-making. We must deliver a robust humanitarian response that includes expanding opportunities for Afghans to seek refuge. We must ensure that refugee children and their families are embraced, protected and empowered in safe and welcoming communities. TCP joins our partners in demanding support for all vulnerable Afghan refugees and will continue working with our partners to share information and resources that support their health and well-being.