The Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance is sending Afghan individuals and families to resettle around the U.S., including thousands to Washington in the next three months, to escape the violent upheaval in their home country.
From 2010 to 2020, ORIA sent approximately 30,213 refugees to Washington; 4,166 were from Afghanistan. More recently, from Oct. 1, 2020, to July 30, 348 people were granted special immigrant visas from Afghanistan and resettled in Washington.
The Biden Administration started Operation Allies Refuge July 14 to expedite the evacuation of Afghans in the line of Taliban danger, perhaps due to being interpreters for U.S. troops or working with diplomats. The program has sent 143 Afghans to Washington in less than a month, according to ORIA.
The highest concentration of Afghan-Washington refugees this summer has come to King County. Afghan refugees receive a one-time grant of approximately $1,200 per person. These federal funds are intended to cover rent and all essential needs during the first 90 days of resettlement.
Homeless advocates nationwide are questioning how the refugees will be able to settle in cities that lack affordable housing.
Since 2008, 70,000 Afghan special immigrant visas have been issued in the U.S., according to the State Department. In a statement from the White House Aug. 28, more than 117,000 people have been evacuated from the Kabul airport. Still, thousands of Afghans are estimated to be in immediate danger and need to leave.
Samira George covers real people living real lives in the Puget Sound. Follow her on Twitter @samirakgeorge.
Read more of the Sept. 1-7, 2021 issue.