American Responsibility to Afghan Refugees

September 12, 2021

After twenty years of war in Afghanistan—after 800,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, after 20,744 American service members were injured, and after 2,461 American personnel were lost—President Biden refused to send another generation of America’s sons and daughters to fight in a war that should have ended long ago. We must continue to support the Afghan people through diplomacy, international influence, and humanitarian aid while also supporting Afghan families seeking refuge here. 

Here are some ways to use your power as a legislator to advocate for Afghan families seeking refuge. 

Examples of state legislation to support Afghan and other refugees:

  • New York legislation to provide payment to Afghan allies who assisted our service members in various roles, including as interpreters and guides
  • Oregon legislation to create a state grant program for refugee resettlement agencies, which builds on 2019 legislation that appropriated $2 million in grants
  • A 2019 Colorado law codified the state’s refugee services program (originally implemented by executive order) and provided refugees access to cash assistance, medical assistance, and social services
  • Enacted legislation in Colorado and Virginia created an Office of New Americans to provide support for citizenship, housing, employment services
  • Enacted legislation in California that provides enhanced services to asylees and vulnerable noncitizens to provide resettlement services
  • In-state tuition legislation for Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Virginia (and here)  
  • Enacted bill from California that expedites professional licensing for refugees, asylees, and SIV holders
  • A Virginia budget bill created a workgroup to 1) identify barriers that recent refugees face entering the workforce and 2) make recommendations for addressing any barriers that prevent them from using their work experience gained outside of the United States to obtain employment in these occupations in Virginia 
  • The New Jersey Governor issued an executive order that creates a cross-agency task force on Afghan refugee assistance to coordinate state efforts to appropriately prepare for and respond to the arrival of Afghan refugees and SIV holders in New Jersey

Speak out

  • Make public statements on social media welcoming refugees to your communities or advocating for support. See below for examples
  • Write letters to the President and/or your Congressional delegation, like this letter from Governor Polis or this letter from 16 Florida state lawmakers 
  • Write an op-ed or LTE in your local paper urging the quick and safe evacuation of Afghan refugees and advocating for policies to support their resettlement in your state 

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