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Public Gets First Look into Texas Military Base Housing Afghan Refugees

Plus: Green card holders still stuck in Afghanistan, refugee organizations see huge donation increases for Afghans

Deanna Garcia

Sep 13, 2021

U. S. Department of State Headquarters by Mark Van Scyoc

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Reporters and the public were given a first look at a U.S. military base located in Fort Bliss, Texas, where Afghans refugees are being screened and housed. There are about 10,000 Afghan evacuees at the base undergoing medical and security checks before resettling in the U.S. Reporters couldn’t speak with evacuees due to “privacy concerns,” according to military officials. The U.S. government spent two weeks developing what it refers to as a village to house Afghans on the base. “Every Afghan who is here with us has endured a harrowing journey and they are now faced with the very real challenges of acclimating with life in the United States,” said Liz Gracon, a senior State Department official. The Associated Press 

In other national immigration news…

Green Card Holders Stuck in Afghanistan Left Unanswered

Madina and her mother are Carlsbad, California, residents and green card holders who were visiting their family in Afghanistan for the first time since the pandemic when the Taliban took over the country. She said they tried to go to the airport five times when the U.S. was evacuating its residents, but were turned back every time. It’s unclear when Madina’s family will be able to leave. For weeks, Madina has been checking her email for instructions from the U.S. government, but hasn’t heard anything from anyone since the evacuations ended and is unsure what to do next. She’s one of many in the Afghan American community who pushed for removing refugee admission caps and allowing her to sponsor more than one relative for U.S. residency. The San Diego Union-Tribune 

Refugee Organizations See Uptick in Donations for Afghan Evacuees

Several leaders of refugee resettlement organizations say they have been seeing an abundance of money and resources throughout the U.S. being donated for Afghan evacuees. Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which closed more than a third of its offices and laid off or furloughed workers due to former President Donald Trump’s policies, raised over $1.8 million in the past month. LIRS would also usually see a dozen people sign up to volunteer, but 45,000 people have signed up in the past three weeks to help out. LIRS has also received donations from Airbnb for housing, Uber for transportation and Walmart for gift cards. The Washington Post 

‘Remain in Mexico’ Asylum Seekers Losing Hope

Frank and his wife have been waiting in a dangerous Mexican border town since 2019 to claim asylum. Recently, he received a call from a UN official saying that he should be getting another call with a time to arrive and be processed into the U.S. But Frank never got that second call. Instead, a few days later, he received an article through a WhatsApp group of Cuban asylum seekers about how the U.S. Supreme Court refused to strike down the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as “Remain in Mexico” program. Frank said, “One day we were waiting on the call to enter the U.S., and the next we don’t know if we will ever be allowed in.” BuzzFeed News 

St. Paul’s Hmong Community Reflects After a Year of Hate Crimes

The Hmong Cultural Center has been serving immigrant and refugee communities in St. Paul, Minnesota, since 1992. The center was recently preparing to open a newly expanded museum with educational exhibits on the community’s arrival in the city. But one morning, three people vandalized the center’s pro-Black Lives Matter artwork and poetry with white spray paint that read “Life, Liberty, Victory” — a slogan associated with the Patriot Front, a white nationalist group. It another act of anti-Asian hate that has been going on throughout the country over the last year. Sahan Journal



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