Forth: In an Hour of Need, Cox Did What Biden Wouldn’t


Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox speaking at the inauguration of Ruth Watkins, 16th president of the University of Utah.(Photo by: Justin Prather | The Utah Chronicle)

By Kate Forth, Opinion Writer


Recently, Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital and United States’ last remaining military base in Afghanistan, fell to Taliban control. Now that the U.S. is withdrawing entirely from Afghanistan, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is likely to increase exponentially. Millions of Afghan refugees are already seeking refuge, and following the fall of Kabul, thousands more are slated to join this rapidly growing group. The BBC reports that 3.5 million Afghans are already internally displaced in the country, and 550,000 have been forced from their homes due to violence.

Afghan refugees have gathered in the Kabul airport to flee the country, and several people have died in the process. To make matters worse, two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a crowd of fleeing Afghans, which resulted in at least 60 Afghan deaths. Despite the desperate situation Afghans are facing, European countries such as Greece, Austria, France and the U.K. are either not accepting any Afghan refugees or are accepting a very limited number of them. The U.S. needs to accept Afghan refugees since their opportunities to find sanctuary are slim. The U.S. needs to do its part in ensuring that these refugees can be safely evacuated from Afghanistan and properly resettled.

President Biden addressed the situation, but he neglected to formulate a concrete plan to provide Afghan refugees with sanctuary within the U.S. Although he offered $500 million in aid money to evacuate Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients from the country, he failed to recognize the needs of all Afghan refugees. President Biden stated that we are evacuating “our citizens, NATO allies [and] Afghanis who have helped us in the war effort.” Biden’s silence on refugees who are not eligible for an SIV speaks to the U.S.’ unwillingness to aid all Afghans. Instead, we focus solely on the Afghans who helped us in our failed war effort.

Biden’s selectivity endangers thousands of Afghans’ lives and demonstrates the U.S.’ unwillingness to take responsibility for their hand in Afghanistan’s crumbling governmental infrastructure. Twenty years of conflict between the U.S. and Afghanistan led to the loss of 47,245 Afghan civilian lives and 66,000 Afghan national military and police. Yet, in the first five minutes of his speech, Biden shifted the blame towards the Trump administration and claimed that defenses against the Taliban failed due to the Afghanistan army. Not only is shifting the blame in a time of crisis inappropriate, but this statement suggests that American lives are worth more than Afghan lives in battle. Afghan lives are worth just as much as American lives. Biden’s rejection of Afghan refugees and redirected blame on the Afghan military demonstrate that he believes otherwise.

Gov. Spencer Cox, on the other hand, responded to the humanitarian crisis by reaching out to the Biden Administration with resources, support and willingness to help all Afghan refugees, not just SIV recipients. Cox’s statement recognized the importance of rescuing Afghan SIV recipients from Afghanistan, while also acknowledging the needs of other Afghan refugees. In an interview, the Utah branch of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a non-governmental organization dedicated to responding to humanitarian crises around the globe, said they were pleased with Governor Cox’s letter response to Afghanistan’s crisis. They said that his letter to the White House was a “good start” and helped the IRC “feel well supported” in their work to give aid to refugees.

Gov. Cox has already formulated a plan to resettle Afghan refugees in Utah. He said, “What we do know is that any refugee from Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world who comes to Utah will be coordinated through the state’s Refugee Services Office and our two federally contracted local refugee resettlement agencies: Catholic Community Services and the International Rescue Committee.” He also encouraged Utahns to support the IRC and Catholic Community Services (CCS), so that this vital work can be completed.

The IRC recommends that Utahns contact their national legislator and tell them that they want all refugees to be accepted into the U.S. as soon as possible. Resources to donate to the IRC efforts, help resettlement efforts, and contact national legislators can be found on the IRC’s website. Supporting organizations, such as the International Medical Corps and Women for Afghan Women will also aid in reducing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The crisis in Afghanistan is dire, and despite the U.S.’ losses in Afghanistan, we can come together to aid Afghan refugees. Cox’s response shows that he is willing to help all Afghan refugees, whereas Biden spent more time preserving his self-image than offering real solutions. As U.S. citizens, we must demand our leaders to act like Gov. Cox, who is proactively preparing Utah to accept all Afghan refugees, not just SIV recipients.


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