Sisolak commits to welcoming Afghan refugees to Nevada

Local News

In this photo provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, civilians prepare to board a plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. (Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

CARSON CITY (KLAS) – Gov. Steve Sisolak said Nevada would welcome Afghan refugees and those who helped U.S. forces to Nevada following the Taliban takeover of their homeland.

The governor and his Office for New Americans released a joint statement Thursday, saying Nevada has a long-standing tradition of resettling refugees and helping them achieve a brighter future in the Silver State.

“We must not forget that Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders are those who assisted our
U.S. military operations and worked side-by-side with our American services members,
including some of the many Nevada Veterans who proudly served overseas,” said Sisolak. “Nevada has always been, and will continue to be a welcoming state for all, and we stand ready to play our part in
resettlement efforts,”

Nevada’s refugee resettlement process is administered and overseen by nonprofit organizations. Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada serves as the Refugee Resettlement Office for the State.

“Our hearts go out to those who are affected by what is happening in Afghanistan and we pray
for a safe outcome for all,” said Deacon Tom Roberts, CEO, Catholic Charities of Southern
Nevada. “We remain devoted to our mission to assist those who have been tragically displaced
from their home countries as they seek refuge in the United States.”

A surge of refugees from Afghanistan is expected following the Taliban takeover of the country in the wake of President Biden’s decision to remove U.S. combat troops.

The United States struggled Thursday to pick up the pace of American and Afghan evacuations at Kabul airport, constrained by obstacles ranging from armed Taliban checkpoints to paperwork problems. With an Aug. 31 deadline looming, tens of thousands remained to be airlifted from the chaotic country.

Taliban fighters and their checkpoints ringed the airport — major barriers for Afghans who fear that their past work with Westerners makes them prime targets for retribution. Hundreds of Afghans who lacked any papers or clearance for evacuation also congregated outside the airport, adding to the chaos that has prevented even some Afghans who do have papers and promises of flights from getting through.

In a hopeful sign, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in Washington that 6,000 people were cleared for evacuation Thursday and were expected to board military flights in coming hours. That would mark a major increase from recent days. About 2,000 passengers were flown out on each of the past two days, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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