Will Afghan refugees come to Youngstown? What to know.


While refugees cannot choose where they will be relocated, resettlement organizations in the vicinity have openly spoken out in favor of accepting Afghan refugees after the crisis.

YOUNGSTOWN – Videos of scenes at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan went viral earlier this week.

One Video shows people clinging to an American military plane as it taxis in the airport; another shows how some fell to their deaths while the plane took off.

Because the Taliban took control from Kabul on Sunday – following the announcement of the withdrawal of most US troops – tens of thousands of Afghans attempt to escape life among the militant group that once included brutal flogging, amputation and public executions.

The US is currently prioritizing the evacuation of “Afghan nationals at particular risk” and has promised to expedite the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for special immigrant visas, according to the State Department and the Department of Defense called in a joint statement.

Special immigrant visas

Afghan nationals are eligible for SIVs if they worked for the US government for at least one year between October 2001 and December 2023 – as a translator, for example – and “faced an ongoing serious threat” from working with the US.

SIV receiver are authorised Receive the same resettlement benefits as refugees and apply for citizenship after five years, but do not count towards the annual number of refugees the US takes in.

On July 30, 2021, Congress approved 8,000 additional SIVs for a total of 34,500 visas issued since December 19, 2021. However, the program was plagued by bureaucratic delays and obstacles.

“We have customers who applied 10 years ago” called Betsy Fisher, Strategy Director at the International Refugee Assistance Project. “Some have applied in the past few weeks out of concern for their lives.”

So far, the US has evacuated around 2,000 SIV applicants and their families, but proponents estimate up to 50,000 remain in the country, Roll Call reported.

Lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-OH, are working to increase that allocation in light of the looming crisis.

In a letter to the Biden government on Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators called for the evacuation of Afghan SIV applicants and their families, as well as legislation to expand the Afghan SIV program and streamline the application process.

“The rapid rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the takeover of Kabul should not lead us to break our promise to the Afghans who have helped us over the past twenty years and count on our help. American inaction would ensure they become refugees or prime targets for Taliban retaliation, ”the senators wrote.

“In particular, we call for continued coordination between Foreign and Defense Ministries to secure and maintain Hamid Karzai International Airport, including the continuation of military flights and the resumption of commercial and charter flights.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs created a priority designation within their refugee program for Afghans who have worked with the US but do not qualify for SIVs.

Other ways

But not all Afghan nationals threatened by the Taliban have helped the US military, and the political will to raise the caps on other visa programs is not so bipartisan for every option.

Brown also performed a. at separate group of senators – 43 Democrats and 3 Republicans – call on the State Department to create a “humanitarian probation” category for Afghan women leaders and “others most at risk of Taliban retaliation” so they can move quickly to the US

Humanitarian probation is used to take away someone who is otherwise ineligible for entry or does not have a visa.

“We and our employees receive regular reports of targeted attacks, threats, kidnappings, tortures and murders of women for their work to defend and promote democracy, equality, higher education and human rights, special immigrant visas and the creation of priority 2 category in the US refugee admission program we also need to protect those women who may fail the US government’s response, ”the letter said.

Legislators are also calling for visas to be expanded, but in recent years the review of visa applications has been slow and the rejection rate has increased.

As of July 31, 2021, the U.S. had only accepted 494 Afghan refugees for fiscal year 2021, which ends September 30. However, President Joe Biden pledged to raise the refugee resettlement limit from Trump’s 15,000 to 62,500 in FY2021.

So have other countries responded on the refugee crisis:

  • Iran Establishes temporary shelter for refugees in three provinces bordering Afghanistan;
  • Pakistan prepares to isolate refugees in makeshift camps near the border;
  • Turkey step up the construction of a border wall with Iran;
  • the United Kingdom and Canada will take in 20,000 refugees at a time, giving priority to minorities;
  • Australia has “no plans” to let refugees in;
  • Switzerland examines asylum applications on a case-by-case basis;
  • Austria supports the establishment of deportation centers;
  • Uganda Will temporarily accept 2,000 refugees at the request of the US;
  • North Macedonia Will temporarily accept 450 refugees at the request of the US;
  • Albania Will temporarily accept 300 refugees at the request of the US;
  • Kosovo will temporarily accept refugees at the request of the USA.

Refugees in Ohio

When refugees arrive in the US, some could find a new home here in Ohio.

In 2018, people from Afghanistan were the fourth largest group of refugees to be resettled in Ohio, but only 126 people were due to the selectivity of the refugee resettlement process and the Trump administration’s extremely restrictive immigration policies.

While refugees don’t have a choice of where to relocate, some may find a home here in Ohio, but only in certain regions, said Dr. Nicole Pettitt, Assistant Professor at Youngstown State University.

Only six Ohio counties – Franklin, Cuyahoga, Summit, Montgomery, Lucas, and Hamilton – have refugee resettlement organizations.

While refugees cannot choose where they will be relocated, resettlement organizations in the vicinity have openly spoken out in favor of accepting Afghan refugees after the crisis.

“We believe there is a home for them here in Cleveland,” said Joe Cimperman, President of Global Cleveland. Cleveland said Jan.. “We want to be very open with our government and those involved, that we are ready to find a place for anyone who wants to come to Cleveland because of this conflict in Afghanistan.”

Refugees are not being resettled in the Mahoning Valley, but they could move upon arrival to join a family or other Afghan communities.

“I don’t know if there is a large Afghan community in Youngstown. There may be a few families and it just takes a few families to settle somewhere so others can do secondary migration there,” Pettitt said.