Here Are The States Offering To Resettle Afghan Refugees

Here Are The States Offering To Resettle Afghan Refugees

08/24/2021

As the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan follows President Joe Biden’s decision to finally withdraw the United States from the war, politicians, human rights advocates and refugee groups have spoken out about the need to evacuate not just Americans but also Afghans ― particularly ones who have helped the U.S. military and those who belong to vulnerable populations.

Since Aug. 14, the U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of about 48,000 people from Afghanistan, the White House said Monday evening. That number continues to increase as Biden expands the perimeter around Kabul’s airport, which is serving as a hold for evacuating people.

As the evacuations continue to increase and fleeing Afghans begin to arrive in the U.S., a growing number of states, led by Democrats and Republicans alike, have announced their intent to do their part by taking in as many refugees as possible. Here is an ongoing list of those states: 

  • Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey and House Speaker Rusty Bowers, both Republicans, said in a statement that the state “wholeheartedly welcomes our fair share of the refugees.”

  • Arkansas: Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced his support for taking in refugees who have supported the U.S. military in Afghanistan, tweeting that his state has a “responsibility to these heroes & their families.”

  • California: At a campaign event in San Jose, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said that Afghan refugees are “welcome and celebrated” in the state, adding that he is working with nonprofits to resettle some of the Afghans currently fleeing to the U.S. The Democrat said he’s “proud of the fact that California has taken in more refugees than any other state,” noting that the state already has a “disproportionate” number of Afghan refugees.

  • Colorado: Democratic Gov. Jared Polis sent a letter to Biden asking how Colorado can assist in the resettlement process, adding that his state “stands ready to provide safety and opportunity to Afghan refugees.”

  • Guam: Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero told MSNBC that the island territory will “certainly play a very significant role” in resettling Afghans but that the Democrat is waiting on the White House for orders. The U.S. used Guam to help process refugees during the Vietnam War and the Gulf War.

  • Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that if “there are refugees that come to the United States as a result of our ability to get them out [of Afghanistan], I hope Illinois will be one place that they will be able to welcome them to.” The Democrat, adding that his own family were refugees, said the focus should currently be to get Americans and their allies out of Afghanistan.

  • Iowa: Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds hopes to welcome more refugees than the 94 Iraqis and Afghans whom the state has resettled over the last four years, a spokesperson told Axios, specifying refugees who supported the U.S. military prior to its withdrawal.

  • Kansas: Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said her state would “welcome refugees and families who supported American troops” if Biden asks the state to do so, according to the Kansas City Star.

  • Maryland: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan posted a video on Twitter saying his state has already committed to resettling 180 Afghan families, which include interpreters for the U.S., and that he is “ready and willing to do even more,” citing a “moral obligation.”

  • Massachusetts: Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, tweeted that his state is “ready to assist Afghan refugees seeking safety and peace in America.”

  • New Mexico: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and House Speaker Brian Egolf, both Democrats, sent Biden a letter saying they “await further direction” on how they can help the resettlement effort. The letter mentioned the state’s “proud tradition of welcoming refugees from around the world with open arms, and we make no exception for the people of Afghanistan.”

  • New York: Incoming Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, who will succeed Andrew Cuomo starting Tuesday, tweeted that the state is “committed to doing our part to welcome refugees fleeing Afghanistan” and that “the arms of the Statue of Liberty are open wide to you.”

  • Oklahoma: Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt tweeted that his office is exploring “every possible avenue” to make sure no U.S. citizens or Afghan allies are left behind, stressing that he welcomes “Afghans fleeing the terrorist Taliban regime” to Oklahoma to “live in the freedom we hold so dearly.”

  • Oregon: Democratic Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement saying the state is ready to help resettle “any and all Afghans who would make our state their home,” adding that Oregon has welcomed more than 75,000 refugees since 1975. Brown said the White House must also expedite the visa approval process and lift refugee caps.

  • Pennsylvania: Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said that his state is ready to “help in any way possible” and has been “in contact with federal and local partners to coordinate resources to resettle Afghan refugees.”

  • South Carolina: Gov. Henry McMaster responded to a reporter’s question about welcoming refugees into the state by saying Afghan allies “helped protect Americans” and “now it is our duty to help them.”

  • Utah: Republican Gov. Spencer Cox announced that he has sent a letter to Biden expressing his desire to help resettle Afghans fleeing their country, citing that the state “was settled by refugees fleeing religious persecution,” understands “the pain caused by forced migration” and appreciates “the contributions of refugees in our communities.”

  • Vermont: Republican Gov. Phil Scott told WCAX-TV that he sent a letter this week to the U.S. State Department reiterating his interest in having more people relocated through the state’s Refugee Resettlement Program, adding that “it appears that there may be a need in the very near future.”

  • Virginia: Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said he has made it clear to the federal government that his state is willing to take “thousands more” refugees as some arrive at Fort Lee, south of Richmond, to have their visa applications processed.

  • Wisconsin: Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said he has been in contact with the federal government about using Fort McCoy in Tomah to process refugees, adding that his state “is ready to assist these efforts and help these individuals who served our country and are now seeking refuge.”

Some states have signaled support for bringing Afghan allies to safety but have not said outright that they would take in refugees. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has voiced that it is “vitally important” to keep the military’s Afghan allies “safe from harm” but has not yet committed to welcoming them to his state. 

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tweeted that he’s “praying for the safe return of our civilians, soldiers, and allies who remain in harm’s way,” but the Republican governor did not specify whether his would accept those allies.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) said that “Americans, our allies, and the Afghan people who helped support our missions” deserve answers from Biden about “how they will be safely evacuated.” Ricketts did not mention whether he planned to accept Afghan refugees in his state.

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