Resilience Refugees

More than 16,000 Afghan refugees were received by just 7 states: report

(WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Story at a glance

  • The federal government has been working with resettlement agencies and states to resettle thousands of Afghan evacuees after the U.S. ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan.
  • The U.S. State Department said more than 74,000 Afghans have resettled in the U.S. to date.
  • About 80 percent of Afghan evacuees from U.S. military bases have been relocated to just 18 states.

Follwoing the chaotic end to the 20-year war in Afghanistan that took place over the summer, thousands of refugees have arrived in the U.S., and new data shows where all of them have resettled.

The U.S. State Department said more than 74,000 Afghans have resettled in the U.S. to date while 38,000 Afghans, American citizens and lawful permanent residents have been relocated to military bases around the country. However, military bases are not permanent homes, and these evacuees must be relocated elsewhere to begin their lives in America.

CBS News obtained internal government data that showed that of the 31,611 Afghan evacuees that had left military sites, more than half, or about 16,303, were received by Texas, California, Virginia, New York, Washington, North Carolina and Arizona.

However, states like Hawaii, South Dakota, Mississippi, Alabama, Montana, Delaware and North Dakota collectively resettled less than 90 Afghan evacuees. Some states are not expected to receive any evacuees, like West Virginia and Wyoming.

That equates to approximately 80 percent of Afghan evacuees from U.S. military bases being relocated to just 18 states.


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According to CBS, the metropolitan cities receiving the most Afghan evacuees are Houston, San Diego, Atlanta, Sacramento, San Antonio, Dallas, Chicago and Glendale. 

Jack Markell, former Delaware governor, told CBS that, “it has been truly remarkable to travel across the country and see first-hand that red and blue really make no difference. When we listen to our veterans, who have been so clear about our obligation to provide a safe and dignified welcome to our allies, that’s something the vast majority of Americans are responding to positively.”

There are still more than 27,000 Afghans on U.S. military bases undergoing processing, which includes getting vaccinated against diseases like COVID-19, before they can be released to states. 

The federal government has been working with local resettlement agencies to house Afghan evacuees, even allowing private citizens to sponsor Afghan families. In August shortly after the U.S. withdrew forces from Afghanistan, housing rental company Airbnb also pledged to offer free housing to 20,000 Afghan refugees.

Many refugees already have family or close friends living in the U.S. and resettlement agencies can help reunite them, while others are placed in localities that have employment opportunities and strong community services. According to the State Department, resettlement agencies place refugees within a network of 200 local affiliates operating throughout the country.

However, finding the right home for Afghans can be challenging as World Relief, one of nine national resettlement agencies, told CBS that finding affordable housing has been a struggle and some refugees have been placed in hotels until caseworkers can find permanent housing options. 

“We very much want to set our allies from Afghanistan up for long-term success. That means we want them to be in places where there is stable housing, where they can be quickly connected to employment, where the children will be welcomed in schools that are ready to accommodate them,” said Markell to CBS.

Once refugees find housing, they are given essential furnishings, food and other basic necessities. They are also given assistance to enroll in employment services, registering children in schools and applying for Social Security cards. Refugees do receive employment authorization upon arrival and the federal government encourages them to get employed as soon as possible.


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