Governor Hochul Welcomes Refugees Fleeing Violence and Instability in Afghanistan
New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul announced that New York State is prepared to welcome the arrival of Afghan nationals fleeing violence and instability spreading throughout the troubled nation. The state’s Refugee Services and Office for New Americans are both ready to assist those seeking to resettle in New York and continue the state’s proud tradition of welcoming those who are fleeing persecution or war. New Yorkers seeking to support Afghans arriving in New York State can contact the Office for New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 for information on local providers and how they can assist. The Hotline is also available for any immigrant in need of confidential assistance and connection to support and services.
“As the world watches the instability in Afghanistan unfold, New York is stepping up to once again serve as a beacon of hope and refuge,” Governor Hochul said. “The richness of culture and community that refugees and immigrants bring to our state is beyond measure, and the message to the world in no uncertain terms is that our state is committed to helping those who seek shelter on our shores.”
While the previous presidential administration drastically reduced the number of refugees and immigrants accepted into the United States, President Joseph Biden issued an emergency determination that raised the national ceiling to 62,500 admissions. The federal government also authorized 8,000 additional special immigrant visas specifically for Afghan translators and interpreters working with the U.S. military and meeting certain requirements.
New York’s Refugee Services is prepared to resettle these new arrivals and assist them as they transition to life in New York. Between October 2020 and July 2021, there have been 458 refugees resettled throughout the state, including 140 Afghans and an additional 83 individuals on a special immigrant visa -most of whom are from Afghanistan.
Overseen by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Refugee Services is aimed at helping refugees and their families to achieve economic and social self-sufficiency. Among other functions, this program helps repatriated citizens arrive safely, provides assistance to victims of human trafficking, and assures unaccompanied refugee and entrant minors have proper foster care.
New York has committed to resettling 1,320 refugees and special immigrant visa holders during Federal Fiscal Year 2021, so the state is prepared for additional arrivals. New York’s statewide network of community-based providers has helped resettle upward of 5,000 individuals over the course of a year.
OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein, “New York has always been a beacon for refugees worldwide, and that storied legacy is evidenced by our state’s rich cultural tapestry. The heart-wrenching images that continue to emerge from Afghanistan are strengthening our resolve to help all refugees that come to our state seeking a safe-haven from perils abroad. We proudly welcome them to our communities and embrace them as our neighbors.”
Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said “My heart goes out to the Afghan refugees fleeing their country for safety. New York has a long history of welcoming immigrants and refugees from around the world, and we will continue this tradition by welcoming Afghan refugees and helping provide them with the resources they need to succeed. Afghan refugees have stood in support of our nation, and during their time of great need, we will welcome them with open arms in support and solidarity as they seek liberty, safety and opportunity in New York State.”
The New York State New Americans Hotline operates from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. All calls are confidential. Assistance is available in over 200 languages.