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Afghan resettlement volunteers recognized at White House ceremony

Volunteers from a coalition of organizations that have been working to resettle Afghans since the country fell to the Taliban were recognized at a White House event Thursday.

Shawn VanDiver, the San Diego Navy veteran who co-founded #AfghanEvac, and Lucky Manan, a former Afghan interpreter who previously lived in El Cajon, were among those invited.

The volunteers included those who have been working since August 2021 to help Afghans flee and resettle in the United States.


"(They're) veterans, front-line civilians — a cross section of America from all points of our country," VanDiver said. "They're Afghan, they’re Hazara, they’re women — this is a really good representative crew of people who have been involved with this.”

In comments to the group, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan thanked the volunteers and said the administration will continue its work resettling Afghans over the next several years.

Manan said he was encouraged by the recognition and hopeful the government will keep its promises to those Afghans and their families who helped the U.S. during the 20-year war.

"I think they are listening," Manan said. "Afghans are having these issues and problems and someone has to step up.”

Advocates were dealt a blow late last year when the bi-partisan Afghan Adjustment Act was cut from the omnibus spending bill. The law would have given resettled Afghans a path to permanent residency.


However, there is optimism it will again be introduced in Congress. San Diego Rep. Scott Peters said in February he intends to reintroduce the legislation this month.

Many Afghans who resettled in the U.S. over the last 18 months did so under Humanitarian Parole visas which will begin expiring in August.