Rep. Eric Swalwell shows support for Afghan refugees, mask and vaccine mandates at town hall

East Bay Congressman Eric Swalwell held his first in-person town hall since the start of the pandemic.

He faced both supporters and critics at the mask-required outdoor event, held on the Castro Valley High School football field Friday evening with dozens of community members seated in the bleachers.

Over the last two weeks, Swalwell said his office has taken on 6,000 immigration cases for Afghans with special immigrant visas to help them resettle in the Bay Area.

"We're gonna get them out," Swalwell told a man whose relatives are in Afghanistan, trying to escape the country and flee the Taliban.

He said his office is creating a network of community leaders, organizations, private businesses, and houses of worship that will assist in providing housing, food, job placement, and a long list of resources to support Afghan refugees once they come to the Bay Area.

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"This is what we do. This is who we are. We are a vibrant economy because this is an economy made up of immigrants and refugees. This is the best economy in the world, here in the Bay Area, and it's not in spite of us being an immigrant community, it's because we are an immigrant community. So we will take care of you, sir" Swalwell told one Afghan immigrant who asked for specifics on how the congressman could assist his relatives. 

Some members of the audience booed and shouted their disapproval for the congressman over his comments on supporting refugees, while a larger crowd applauded him.

As news broke that the U.S. military conducted an airstrike against ISIS-K in Afghanistan, killing the intended target, a member of Swalwell's staff shared the news with him in real time.

"God bless our military, they do all they can to keep us safe," Swalwell said upon reading a news story about it on a mobile phone.

When touching on the coronavirus pandemic, Swalwell was unapologetic about his support for the state's mask mandate, and businesses that require proof of vaccination.

"I believe the best way to go about this, if you make a choice to not get vaccinated," Swalwell said, "then you can also respect businesses that make choices to require vaccines."