The International Rescue Committee in Arizona is at the ready to help Afghan families with Special Immigrant Visas. This re-settlement process isn’t new, but it’s become more urgent with recent events in Afghanistan. Horizonte’s Jose Cardenas spoke with Aaron Rippenkroeger, Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee in Arizona.
“We’ve received some Afghan citizens over the course of the past 11 months or so, it was part of the standard refugee re-settlement programs from each year…now we’re preparing to hopefully receive more in the coming weeks,” Rippenkroeger said.
The International Rescue Committee is preparing for these refugees by looking at their staffing and making sure we have language capacity, personnel capacity, being able to pick them up from the airport and looking for initial housing options where refugees can stay.
This also entails looking into school enrollments, talk with community partners and put the word out for volunteer opportunities and start putting resources in place.
When asked how many refugees Arizona is expected to re-settle, Rippenkroeger said it’s hard to know the exact number of people arriving because the situation is so fluid but, “we’re hoping it will be in the hundreds at least.”
What often brings refugees, like those from Afghanistan, is family connection in the U.S. or even a military connection created with U.S. soldiers while in Afghanistan, that sometimes determines where refugees will go geographically.
Refugees do also get to choose from a list of States that they may want to re-settle but Rippenkroeger recommends they, “make sure you have an organization with language capacity and services available to help receive them and get them started…but outside of that, we try to give them some choice in the matter when we can.”
Governor Doug Ducey and House Speaker Rusty Bowers, said that the State will cooperate with federal authorities. Rippenkroeger’s said that, “it’s very encouraging. Arizona has a long-standing bi-partisan tradition of ‘welcome’ for refugees and people coming out of conflict zones such as this, so we’re grateful for those messages.”