Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer: State ‘embraces the opportunity’ to take in Afghan refugees

By: - August 21, 2021 12:09 pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Whitmer office photo

As the Taliban continues to gain control of Afghanistan after the U.S.-supported Afghanistan government and military crumbled, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that the state is prepared to welcome Afghan citizens fleeing their home. 

Whitmer said in a press release that state departments and agencies are “gearing up to ensure Afghans who may come to our state have the support they need to succeed” while the state awaits information from the U.S. State Department. 

Displaced Afghans reach out for aid from a local Muslim organization at a makeshift IDP camp on August 10, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Taliban has taken control of six provincial capitals, among other towns and trade routes, since the United States accelerated withdrawal of its forces this year. Afghan families from Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan provinces have arrived in Kabul in greater numbers, fleeing the Taliban advance. | Paula Bronstein /Getty Images

Other states offering to take Afghan refugees include Wisconsin, Oregon, Virginia, California, Utah, Maryland, Iowa and more. In the last few years, Michigan also has accepted refugees from Iraq, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

“As Afghan families flee violence and political persecution, it is our duty and honor to welcome them with that fundamental Michigan spirit of friendliness,” Whitmer said. “The State of Michigan embraces the opportunity to welcome Afghan families as they find a new home to begin their lives.

The governor concluded her announcement by thanking the nearly 70,000 Michiganders for their service in the Afghanistan war since 2001, saying the war has been multi-generational and that “we must also recognize the complex set of emotions they may be feeling at this time.”

Currently, both U.S. citizens and Afghanistan residents who helped the U.S. government and military throughout the 20-year war are struggling to leave Kabul after the Taliban took over the city last week. About 12,000 people, both U.S. government workers and Afghanistan residents, have been evacuated from the country since the Taliban’s takeover of the Afghanistan capital last week. 

The International Refugee Assistance Project filed legal claims with the State Department for its Afghan clients and another 20,000 Afghan applicants in the Special Immigrant Visa Program. Under the program, Afghan immigrants would be required to have a connection to the state. 

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Julia Forrest
Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is a contributor to the Michigan Advance. She has been covering Michigan and national politics for two years at the Michigan Daily and OpenSecrets. She studies public policy at the University of Michigan.