Newsom offers aid to Afghan refugees settling in California

Gov. Gavin Newsom said California would be “a place of refuge” for Afghans fleeing the Taliban, as the governor and lawmakers announced on Friday evening a $ 16.7 million proposal to provide cash assistance to refugees and a partnership with Airbnb to provide free, temporary housing for refugees settling in the state.

The proposal, which requires legislative approval next week, will provide health care, public benefits and other resources to Afghan evacuees in California. Thousands of people are fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power last month as the United States withdrew its troops. Those who have arrived in the United States are now faced with the daunting task of rebuilding their lives.

“Today’s announcements and the funding request indicate that California is ready to help those in need,” Newsom said in a statement. “As the most diverse state in the country, we don’t just tolerate diversity, we celebrate it. “

Democrats in the California Congressional delegation sent a letter to President Biden last month saying the Golden State has a moral obligation to house vulnerable Afghan refugees and special immigrant visa applicants. The letter noted that California became home to more Afghan refugees in the last year than any other state and that it is the country’s duty to relocate those who have helped the US military and others who may be the target of the Taliban.

Biden said Afghan refugees would be carefully screened before reaching the United States. Some Afghan refugees will not have special immigration visas and will be granted humanitarian parole to evacuate quickly. Humanitarian parolees are not currently eligible for certain federal benefits, but Newsom is proposing to allow these refugees to access public state benefits.

Newsom also announced a partnership with Airbnb, which previously pledged to help 20,000 Afghan refugees around the world. The Newsom administration said Airbnb has hosted more than 100 Afghan refugees in California so far and will continue to coordinate with agencies to offer additional assistance.

“These refugees have helped our military in Afghanistan and it is fitting that we give them hope when they come to California,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). “When I was growing up, the rule of thumb was that no matter how little you had, you helped those in need.”

According to the American Community Survey 2019, approximately 144,000 people of Afghan ancestry live in the United States. According to the survey, up to 64,500 people of Afghan descent reside in California.

Other states have made similar appeals to offer aid to those fleeing the war-torn nation.

The state will expand its California Dignity for Families Fund, a public-private partnership that helps migrant families and unaccompanied children at the US-Mexico border as they seek asylum and settle in California communities. This fund will now include those arriving from Afghanistan and has raised $ 8.3 million to meet its goal of $ 20 million to provide humanitarian aid, immigration legal assistance and other services, said Newsom administration.

“California has long been a beacon for international refugees seeking safety and a better life,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said. “The legislature has already proposed funding to support Afghan refugees – we have the funds to help. With this small but important step, we can help ensure that refugees fleeing Afghanistan have the tools they need to successfully rebuild their lives in California.

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