Connecting state and local government leaders
Governors in both parties say their states are ready to assist displaced people who helped the U.S. and are fleeing the Taliban.
There are at least 10 governors, Democrats and Republicans, who have stepped forward to say their states will welcome and assist refugees from Afghanistan, as the U.S. tries to evacuate people from the country after the Taliban seized control of it in recent days.
How many Afghans will arrive in the U.S. in the weeks ahead is hard to know given the turbulent situation as people try to flee. But one estimate from earlier this summer indicates that around 18,000 interpreters and others who worked with Americans there are seeking Special Immigrant Visas, and that each of these people could bring, on average, three family members.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, told the White House in an Aug. 17 letter that his state was ready to assist as displaced people arrive. “We have a long history of welcoming refugees from around the world and helping them restart their lives,” he wrote.
Cox went on to reference Utah’s history as a place where Mormons settled in the 1800s to escape religious persecution elsewhere, adding that state residents today “have a deep understanding of the danger and pain caused by forced migration and an appreciation for the wonderful contributions of refugees in our communities.”
In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said the state had been in contact with federal authorities about resettlement efforts and will “help these individuals who served our country and are now seeking refuge.” Fort McCoy, an Army installation in western Wisconsin, is anticipating arrivals under the special visa program.
Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, said the U.S. has a “moral obligation” to help Afghans who assisted the U.S. during two decades of military and nation-building operations in the country. He said Maryland expects to receive at least 180 Afghan citizens as part of the relocation push that is underway.
“We stand ready and willing to do even more,” he said.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, also a Republican, said his state is “ready to assist Afghan refugees seeking safety and peace in America.”
Other governors who have made similar statements include: California’s Gavin Newsom, a Democrat; South Carolina’s Henry McMaster, a Republican; Iowa’s Kim Reynolds, a Republican; Vermont’s Phil Scott, a Republican; Georgia’s Brian Kemp, a Republican; and Virginia’s Ralph Northam, a Democrat.
Bill Lucia is a senior editor for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.