Chicago Prepares to Welcome Hundreds of Afghan Refugees
In the coming weeks and months, more than 500 Afghans are expected to
make their homes in Chicago, following the U.S. withdrawal from and
Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Resettlement agencies are working to support refugees entering Illinois
with housing, employment, English classes, health care and more.
Sima Quraishi, executive director of the Muslim Women Resource Center in
Chicago, fled Afghanistan when she was 10 years old after the Soviet
invasion. She said the people who are fleeing now, like her and her
family before, are in need of support and resources to get on their feet
in a new place.
"Now is the time to stand with our Afghans," Quraishi urged. "It is our
moral obligation to protect, defend and welcome them and their families.
It is central to who I am; it is central to who we are as a nation."
More than a dozen Chicago aldermen on Monday signed a letter
to President Joe Biden, to indicate Chicago is ready and willing to
help bring Afghan allies out of danger and to a welcoming city.
In May, Biden said he plans to increase the refugee cap to 125,000 in the fiscal year starting in October, but some lawmakers are calling for more.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. from Chicago, is calling on the Biden
administration to let in 200,000 refugees next year. She said her office
has heard from hundreds of people trying to get their relatives safely
out of Afghanistan, and she joins calls to give Afghan people Temporary Protected Status in the U.S.
"Afghans of all immigration status must be able to access affordable
housing, food, health care and legal and governmental services,"
Advocacy groups and resettlement agencies are accepting volunteers and
donations to help refugees with airport pickups, meal assistance,
mentorship, tutoring and other services. They also urged concerned
residents to contact the White House and their representatives in
Congress to express support for helping as many Afghans as possible seek