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Nearly 1,700 Afghan Evacuees To Settle In Washington

Patch logo Patch 9/16/2021 Charles Woodman
a group of people standing around a plane: Afghan evacuees disembark the plane after landing at Skopje International Airport, North Macedonia, on Wednesday, Sept. 15. © AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski Afghan evacuees disembark the plane after landing at Skopje International Airport, North Macedonia, on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

SEATTLE — Nearly 1,700 Afghan evacuees will soon be living in Washington, coming as part of a broader effort from the Biden administration to resettle tens of thousands of displaced Afghans fleeing Taliban rule.

The White House on Wednesday began notifying governors and state refugee coordinators how many of the 37,000 incoming Afghan evacuees they should expect, the Associated Press reported. According to data obtained by Axios, Washington has been approved to receive 1,679 refugees in total. That puts the Evergreen state on the higher end of the spectrum: Most states are expecting under a thousand new residents. Some, like Colorado, are will shelter none. Others, including Mississippi and Alabama, will shelter just 10 evacuees each. California will take the most, with 5,255 refugees, followed by Texas, which will accept 4,481 people.

The government says it prioritized sending refugees to states that have histories of welcoming Afghan transplants. Some of the new evacuees have also filed requests to be resettled in specific states because they have close friends or family living nearby, the AP reported.

Before heading to Washington, refugees will be vetted by the Department of Homeland Security.

Related: Resettling Afghan Refugees In WA: What's Different This Time


Video: Sec. of State says up to 1,500 Americans remain in Afghanistan amid evacuations (USA TODAY)

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While Washington prepares to accept its 1,700 new residents, it's also planning for more in the months to come, as more evacuees flee Afghanistan following the Taliban's rise to power. According to the AP, the Biden administration has already asked Congress for funding to settle 65,000 refugees by the end of the month, and 95,000 by September of next year.

In the past, local lawmakers have signaled support for Afghan refugees. Back in August, Gov. Jay Inslee put out a statement pledging to do what he could to aid in the evacuation effort, and reaffirming that Washington would welcome and support the people of Afghanistan.

"Since 1975, Washington has welcomed nearly 150,000 refugees from 70 different countries," Inslee wrote. "These remarkable individuals have contributed significantly to Washington's economy and culture; they and their descendants are now inextricably connected with our future prosperity. In the past decade, almost 5,000 of these refugees have hailed from Afghanistan."

Washington has been preparing for weeks to accept the new arrivals, according to the governor.

"Anticipating the arrival of new refugees, Washington's state and local agencies are mobilizing to coordinate resettlement services, financial assistance, and housing," Inslee said. "Concurrently, a groundswell of support has arisen from companies, community organizations, and individuals, all offering to contribute time and resources to the relief effort. I am heartened by the news that Washington will have another opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to embrace those in need."

Previously, the Pierce County Council also approved a resolution sharing a similar sentiment, asking residents to greet Afghan refugees with open arms.

The resolution reads, in part:

"Pierce County welcomes all who seek freedom and refuge from the oppressive Taliban regime and invites the Pierce County community to volunteer through Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Services and other programs to help our new neighbors find affordable housing, employment, food and mentorship to help them transition into our community in their new home country."
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