Arizona Set To Welcome Refugees From Afghanistan

September 23, 2021

Phoenix-based reported on Sept. 1 that non-profit groups in Arizona are getting ready to receive refugees who fled from Afghanistan during the withdrawal of American forces and the subsequent takeover of the country by the Taliban. 

At least 120,000 people evacuated Afghanistan recently because of the Taliban takeover. Although it’s not known exactly how many refugees will be resettled in Arizona, some local non-profits have the capacity to assist up to 200 families and individuals. 

One such non-profit is Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest. Since 1975, the organization has resettled refugees in Arizona. During times of high refugee resettlement, Lutheran has assisted more than 1,300 refugees.  

Connie Phillips, the non-profit’s CEO and President, told 12News that the organization can facilitate the resettlement of approximately 600 people from any country in the world. Following the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, Phillips said the Lutheran Social Services can help an extra 200 refugees who fled Afghanistan. 

“It’s the same work of preparing to receive them, find housing, assist them to get settled and provide those supportive services,” Phillips told 12News.

In addition to Lutheran Social Services, there are three other organizations that help resettle refugees in the Grand Canyon state. 

These groups often assist refugees on short notice, typically two weeks. However, with the chaos that ensued during the Taliban takeover, the non-profits may be forced to work on much shorter notice. 

“We are anticipating we will only get a day or two to welcome them,” said Phillips.

Once the newest legal immigrants arrive in Arizona, after first being taken to military bases for processing, there will be co-sponsors called “first friends” to greet them and take them to a furnished apartment that’s already paid for, Phillips added. 

The Phoenix metro area will likely be hosting most of the Afghan refugees.

Shortly after resettling, case managers meet with the refugees to assist them in many areas such as transportation, finding employment and medical care, cultural orientation, and enrolling children in school. The ultimate role of the caseworker is to help integrate the new immigrant into the community. 

New refugees receive assistance from Lutheran Social Services’ case managers for three to six months. After that, co-sponsors typically offer assistance for up to five years. At that time, immigrants can apply for U.S. citizenship. 

Immigration lawyers who are also offering assistance to the new arrivals will help the refugees with special humanitarian visas and humanitarian parole, among other services.

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