Earlier this month, the Biden administration resettled the final Afghan evacuees who were still being sheltered at U.S. military bases, joining the tens of thousands of people who have already moved to new communities and homes throughout the country as part of Operation Allies Rescue. Data newly obtained by CBS News reveals that Afghan refugees were resettled in nearly all states and Washington, D.C.—and more than a third in just three states.
“More than one-third of the 67,380 Afghans processed at U.S. military sites following their evacuation from Afghanistan have been resettled in Texas, California and Virginia, while the rest have joined over 200 communities in 46 other states and the District of Columbia,” the report said.
Texas received the most evacuees of any state at nearly 10,500. California and Virginia received the second and third most evacuees at 8,301 and 5,171, respectively. Still, Houston welcomed almost as many people as the entire commonwealth of Virginia at just over 5,100. “The three states have robust refugee resettlement infrastructures, as well as large Afghan American communities,” CBS News reported.
California in particular has one of the largest Afghan communities in the entire nation, and early on rallied for relief for vulnerable people amid the Taliban’s takeover. San Antonio and Dallas were also among the top 10 U.S. cities to welcome evacuees at 1,763 and 1,338, respectively. San Diego, Sacramento, and Glendale represented California in the top 10 at 2,350, 1,890, and 1,152, respectively. Alexandria rounded out the top 10, welcoming 1,131 people.
CBS News also reports that a “smaller number” of refugees were resettled through a Biden administration program that allowed private individuals to sponsor evacuees, but the exact number was not clear.
Mirroring earlier reporting, Wyoming remains the only state to have not welcomed any evacuees to date. However, many of its residents have acted on their own to aid. Montana’s lone House member, Republican Matt Rosendale, had also thrown a fit in September over the relatively small number of families set to go to the state (75), tweeting that he would “strongly oppose the resettlement of these Afghan nationals in Montana.”
Per CBS News data, 112 refugees have been welcomed to the state so far (click here for more numbers).
GOP leaders and others opposing Afghan resettlement have been a fringe minority. CBS News/YouGov polling last summer found 81% overall support for evacuating Afghan translators and other allies to the United States. This is important to remember as the Biden administration works to establish a nonmilitary base for future Afghan arrivals, including thousands of evacuees still being processed at military bases overseas.
“In a historic effort, all 76,000 Afghan evacuees in the U.S. have been relocated to their new communities,” tweeted the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. “Congress must now swiftly pass the #AfghanAdjustmentAct to provide our new neighbors with safety and stability.” That legislation would legalize tens of thousands of evacuees who arrived to the U.S. through humanitarian parole, which does not offer a direct pathway to permanent status.
“The work of welcome is a marathon, not a sprint,” Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service President Krish O’Mara Vignarajah said earlier this month, noting that refugees’ successful resettlement depends on continued support from both local and federal governments, as well as “from local communities, congregations, volunteers, and all those who stand for welcome.” She also urged passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act.
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