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San Diego expecting 2nd highest influx of Afghan refugees in the state

Afghan refugees
Posted at 7:46 PM, Oct 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-30 23:59:25-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — “We are about to see a historic number of refugees settle in the United States," said Supervisor Terra Lawson Remer.

On Saturday, Remer said San Diego could see the second highest influx of Afghan refugees in the state. She furthered, that 65,000 Afghans who have arrived on American soil since the Taliban's takeover are still awaiting resettlement.

Organizations like CAIR, and IRC San Diego said that they are more than ready for the influx.

However, some refugees told ABC 10News that the process is lengthy, and at times traumatizing.

One refugee, who preferred not to be named, said he hopes the refugees who will arrive in San Diego in the next several months are given the proper assistance.

This refugee, who we will refer to as John Doe stated that he fled Afghanistan right before the Taliban's takeover.

John's translator stated on his behalf, “They faced a lot of struggle and sacrifice to get here and were given certain promises like stable housing some form of housing but that wasn’t quite met.”

The translator said John's family is overseas. John and his wife flew from Afghanistan to a military camp in Virginia and stayed there for more than fifty days. John told ABC 10News that he felt like a prisoner.

“They sacrificed so much to help the American’s in Afghanistan and they don’t see us as human beings," shared John's translator. "They completely disregard us, our needs and our humanity.”

Immigration Attorney Maria Chavez said that the resettlement process changes depending on how the individual was brought in.

She shared that refugees follow a process that is created by the federal government, that places the refugee in a military camp in the United States, and then a resettlement agency anywhere in the country. The military camps John said were most notable by the refugees resettled in San Diego were the ones in Virginia and New Mexico.

Those with Visa's or humanitarian parole, Chavez explained would have to file more paperwork in order to obtain a work permit and eventually a green card.

Chavez said that with more refugees needing safety in our country, regardless of which process is done, she believes it needs to be fast-tracked.

“If you had SIV applications that have been pending for the last four or five years that is unacceptable there is no reason as to why that should have happened," she said. "People’s lives are in danger in Afghanistan, why because of the US systemic failure.”

Refugees like John said that while they receive assistance with rent, food, and clothing, it is barely enough to get by. He hopes that the next wave of those coming to San Diego get community aide and empathy.

“The fact that a lot of these families are hearing news that their families have been abducted by Taliban, these are the things that they are facing a lot of trauma, and they are hoping that the smooth transition can help with that trauma," explained John's translator.

“We don’t know what the Taliban is going to do," said Chavez. "It’s human nature and human dignity, we did this, we caused this we need to allow this people in safely and as quickly as possible. They need to get to safety, because of us.”

John shared that the refugees that will be coming over the course of the next few months will be facing even more hardship then the ones already re-located, as they have been living under Taliban control.

There are various organizations in San Diego that are at the ready to help the incoming and current refugees: