Ducey says Arizona welcomes Afghan refugees who helped US troops
PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday said the state is working closely with federal officials to accept Afghans who aided American troops and are seeking refuge from the Taliban regime.
“They helped our military members in their country, and now we stand ready to help them in ours,” Ducey said in a combined statement with Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers.
“Arizona wholeheartedly welcomes our fair share of the refugees in our state.”
Afghan refugees who receive a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) for their service to the United States are taken to a military base or location outside the country while a vetting process is being completed, according to the statement.
“When they have been cleared for entry into the United States for their service to our military, we are ready to welcome them and help them settle into their new home in the land of the free,” the statement read.
The Arizona Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of the state’s Department of Economic Security, will work with the refugees to secure housing and employment, enroll in English classes if needed, connect them with health care resources and help enroll their children in school, according to the statement.
Nearly 6,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan by the U.S. military since Saturday, a White House official said Wednesday night.
The American exodus from Afghanistan continues prior to the planned Aug. 31 pullout.
About 100,000 Afghans were seeking evacuation through a U.S. visa program, head of the International Refugee Assistance Program Rebecca Heller said.
President Joe Biden and his top officials said the U.S. was working to speed up the evacuation, but made no promises how long it would last or how many people would be flown to safety.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters the evacuations would continue “until the clock runs out or we run out of capability.”
Ducey and Bowers criticized Biden’s exit plan from Afghanistan, saying the refugees were put in this position because of the president’s negligence and inability to lead.
“His failure on this issue is a threat not just to the progress done for the people of Afghanistan, but also to the national security of the United States and our allies around the world,” the statement said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.