The escalating immigration of Afghan refugees generated by the removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is beginning to reach Pennsylvania as families escaping from the Taliban-led government will take refuge in resettlement areas in the state.
The evacuation from the conflict-ridden region will bring into the country both refugees and people with special immigration visas (SIV) who worked for the U.S. military, usually as translators, in Afghanistan.
As reported by The Times, a Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) has begun to resettle one family in Pittsburgh and is getting ready for two more families that recently evacuated Afghanistan, said Ivonne Smith-Tapia, director of refugee and immigrant services for the Squirrel Hill-based JFCS.
In south-central Pennsylvania, Church World Service (CWS) Lancaster has sent four employees to Virginia’s Fort Lee military base said Rachel Helwig, Development and Communications Coordinator for CWS Lancaster. The organization is working with community partners to secure access to housing and employment to the Afghan refugees.
Identify potential housing
“We have reached out to some volunteers or folks that regularly work with us to identify some potential housing opportunities in advance in case we are able to work with SIVs who are resettling here, always looking for landlords or community members who might have some housing opportunities,” Helwig said.
“We’ve also had a lot of really great outreach from local employers reaching out to our office to indicate their interest in hiring new neighbors,” the coordinator added.
The Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services works with refugee service contractors in seven cities to provide refugee assistance. Those cities are: Allentown, Erie, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Scranton.
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“We have been diligently preparing for the imminent arrival of Afghan refugees,” said Ali Fogarty, Communications Director for DHS. He explained that the Department “helps provide stability and provide access to high quality employment, medical and mental health screening, support services, and case management for up to 60 months post-arrival.”