Maryland, Virginia say they stand ‘ready and willing’ to take in more Afghan refugees
The governors of Maryland and Virginia said on Monday they are “ready and willing” to accept more refugees from Afghanistan as the Taliban completes its takeover of the nation’s government.
Maryland is already poised to receive at least 180 Afghan citizens in the coming weeks under an ongoing federal program that provides Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) to those who helped with U.S. operations in Afghanistan over the past two decades.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said the state is “ready and willing” to receive more refugees.
“Many of these Afghan citizens — our allies — bravely risked their lives to provide invaluable support for many years to our efforts as interpreters and support staff, and we have a moral obligation to help them,” Hogan said.
“If you are in need of assistance — or know someone who is — contact our Office of Refugees and Asylees immediately,” he added in Monday’s remarks.
In neighboring Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said this week that the state “will continue to serve as safe harbor” for refugees.
“Last week I was honored to meet some of the thousands of Afghan citizens and families who have sought refuge at Fort Lee in Virginia. I’m coordinating with DC and have made it clear: we’re ready and willing to take thousands more,” Northam tweeted on Monday.
Last week I was honored to meet some of the thousands of Afghan citizens and families who have sought refuge at Fort Lee in Virginia.
I’m coordinating with DC and have made it clear: we’re ready and willing to take thousands more. Virginia will continue to serve as safe harbor.
— Governor Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) August 16, 2021
Other governors have also signaled support for accepting Afghan refugees.
“We’re a state of refuge,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said at a rally on Monday, according to local media, adding that he is “proud of the fact over the last decade California has taken in more refugees than any other state in America.”
A spokesperson for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) told the Des Moines Register the state is looking for ways to support SIV holders. So far, 94 Iraqi and Afghan SIV holders have been resettled in the state over the past four years, the newspaper reported.
“We are currently waiting on additional details from the federal government to understand any new emergency processing and ensure proper vetting for any SIV or refugee resettlement,” spokesperson Pat Garrett told the news outlet.
Evacuation efforts were in disarray earlier this week amid the Taliban takeover, endangering Afghans hoping to flee the nation due to their work supporting the U.S. government and international groups.
Devastating footage circulated widely on social media this week showing Afghan citizens trying to hold onto the exterior of a U.S. military aircraft as it tried to take off. Some were seen falling off a plane as it accelerated down the runway.
The Biden administration has faced immense criticism for its handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Government officials say they are working as fast as possible to evacuate more people.
In the past few weeks, the U.S. has received just 2,000 SIV holders. Over 80,000 people could qualify for the visa.