SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – It has been a week since Governor Spencer Cox penned a letter to President Joe Biden to express Utah’s willingness to accept Afghan refugees. While it is unclear how many evacuees may come to the state, Utahns have stepped up to assist.
“When tragedy occurs somewhere on the other side of the world, Utahns are always quick to show concern and willingness to help out,” Governor Cox says in a Wednesday update. “My office has received countless calls and emails from individuals, families, businesses, and organizations offering to do something to support the efforts to bring Afghan refugees to Utah. We still do not know how many and how soon Utah may start receiving Afghan refugees, but we want to be prepared for when they do start arriving. 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.”
Governor Cox says the U.S. Department of State is in the process of establishing pathways for the resettlement of Afghan refugees in the U.S. Evacuating Afghans are being flown to three military bases in the U.S. – Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort Bliss in Texas, and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.
Within the group of evacuating Afghan are hundreds of full Special Immigrant Visa holders, who are assured resettlement in the U.S., They can go to the final resettlement sites and access full refugee benefits. A second group of refugees are those who were in the middle of completing the SIV processing. According to Gov. Cox, this group will finish their processing at the military bases before going to final resettlement sites and gaining access to full refugee benefits.
A third group of refugees are being called parolees, who are also being taken to the military base for processing. Officials say they will be able to apply for asylum, which could take about two years. Regardless of the group the refugees fall in, officials say they have been allies, aids, and in many cases, put their lives on the line to protect American troops.
Utah is currently not on the State Department’s list of states where SIVs can relocate to, according to Gov. Cox. The International Rescue Committee and Catholic Community Services are the state’s resettlement agencies, meaning any refugees coming to Utah will be resettled by one of these agencies.
“While we don’t know how many Afghan refugees to expect at this time, there are refugees coming to Utah from across the world. Each brings their own story of struggle and the need to find a new home and build a future in Utah. Donating goods, money, and time are all ways to help refugees,” Gov. Cox says.
For these refugees, the governor says they, like many Utahns across the state, have a critical need for access to affordable housing. Here are some ways you can help:
- Visit International Rescue Committee
- Visit Catholic Community Services
- Visit the Refugee Services Office