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Officials advocate for Afghan refugee support

Local, state and federal officials advocated for more support for Afghan refugees during a virtual panel conversation Monday.
Afghan panel screenshot
Clockwise from top left, U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, Jaime Koehler Blanchard of Lutheran Family Services, Broomfield City Councilmember Heidi Henkel and state Rep. Iman Jodeh spoke at a panel on Afghan resettlement in Colorado hosted by the Truman National Security Project on Monday.

Local, state and federal officials advocated for more support for Afghan refugees during a virtual panel conversation Monday, noting that only a fraction of those who helped the United States during the Afghanistan War have been evacuated in the wake of the Taliban takeover in August. 

Rep. Jason Crow told attendees he’s working to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act to provide more resources to Afghans and their families who helped the United States during the war. 

“Right now there are tens of thousands who remain in Afghanistan without the option to get out,” Crow said. “I’m pushing hard in Congress to get all eligible folks out and open a pipeline to get them resettled.” 

There are between 50,000 and 80,0000 people in Afghanistan who are likely eligible for a special immigrant visa for their service to the United States, Crow said. That number doesn’t account for their immediate family members who would also come with them, which means 200,000 people needing evacuation and resettlement is a conservative estimate. 

It’s likely the Afghan Adjustment Act will have to be attached to a much larger bill in order to pass the U.S. House of Representatives, Crow said. 

The panel, sponsored by the Truman National Security Project, also featured Broomfield City Councilmember Heidi Henkel, state Rep. Iman Jodeh and Jaime Koehler Blanchard of Lutheran Family Services. 

Approximately 2,000 Afghan refugees arrived in Colorado in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Jodeh said. 

In Broomfield, Henkel and other volunteers are working with 44 refugees to help them find housing, jobs, transportation and other support. 

Henkel said Coloradans should push their elected officials to support resettlement and support efforts for Afghans and that refugees seeking asylum are petrified of being sent back to Afghanistan. 

That sentiment was echoed by Crow. 

“Let your federal representatives know this is a priority for the American people, that we are at our best as a country when we lead with our values and keep our promises to our friends,” he said. “It’s a moral imperative but it’s also a national security issue, that we are not going to have friends and partners going forward if they don’t believe that America is going to stand behind them.”