The U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan created conditions in which many people panicked as an incoming Taliban government caused many Afghans to flee their country out of fear of losing their lives. The U.S. government committed to evacuating as many people as possible during its withdrawal and approximately 75,000 Afghan evacuees have arrived in the United States to date. They were all vetted in a third-party country before arriving and are not a security risk. Some were fortunate enough to receive a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) before fleeing which entitles them to specific long-term assistance from the U.S. government and a pathway to citizenship. The majority were granted Humanitarian Parole which is temporary permission to remain in the U.S. for up to 2 years. They must apply for and be granted asylum in order to remain in the U.S. permanently. Once they have asylum status they can apply for a green card. In the meantime, they are eligible for work permits and short-term resettlement assistance from the U.S.
These evacuees will need significant support in order to successfully resettle in the U.S. The U.S. government provides economic support for just 90 days and employment services for 180 days. Non-profit organizations such as Episcopal Migration Ministries and its local affiliate Samaritas provide additional support for the approximately two years it takes to settle a family. All local affiliates, including Samaritas, rely heavily upon churches and other faith-based communities to co-sponsor families and individuals and assist with resettlement needs. The greatest need at this point in time is for affordable housing. Housing is available, but in today’s competitive market landlords are refusing to rent to newly arriving Afghans. In addition to housing, Afghan evacuees will also need transportation, help learning English, and help registering their children for school, mental health services, legal services, etc.
As always, the congregations of the Diocese of Michigan are doing their part to assist those in need. Several churches are working with Samaritas which coordinates refugee resettlement in southeast Michigan. Christ Church Cranbrook is sponsoring three families and organizing mobile medical clinics at a local hotel where many refugees are staying temporarily. Christ Church Dearborn is partnering with other houses of worship, Christian and Muslim, in Dearborn to sponsor between one and three families, and are currently waiting for an assignment from Samaritas. Christ Church, Detroit has also applied to co-sponsor an Afghan family with Samaritas. Other churches considering assistance are St. John’s Plymouth, with the use of their rectory for housing; and St. John’s Royal Oak, and St. David’s Southfield are discerning their level of support.
Your help is needed too! Do you have a source of affordable housing? Can you make a donation? Do you have a gift or talent that you are willing to share such as pro-bono mental health or legal services? Do you have a reliable vehicle you can donate?
Monetary Donations can be made online through the Diocese of Michigan by scanning the QR code, or clicking the green button below.