[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined immigrant and refugee resettlement organizations in New Haven, Connecticut yesterday to call for the continued evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies who are in danger in Afghanistan.
Over the last several weeks, Blumenthal has been significantly involved in efforts to help Americans and Afghan allies leave Afghanistan, working with a coalition of volunteers, veterans, journalists, and advocates. In response to the dozens of Connecticut residents still stuck in Afghanistan, Blumenthal said:
“We are hearing from relatives who are here about those Afghan Americans who went there for a wedding or a funeral or a visit, and they were as astonished and surprised as our own State Department was by the pace of the Taliban’s victory. And they were caught in Afghanistan and they are stuck there, and we are going to continue to fight for them…as well as for Afghan allies who are applying for Special Immigrant Visas and other kinds of potential refugee status.”
Chris George, Executive Director of Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS), shared that forty-five Afghan Americans – including both Lawful Permanent Residents and U.S. citizens – from the New Haven area still have not been evacuated from Kabul.
“They tried to get out through the airport and they were beaten and bruised and terrified in the process. They’ve been hunkering down in safe houses in Kabul in hiding, running out of food, and I have to be honest, running out of hope. They feel like they are bargaining chips in some high stakes game of international diplomacy. Some of them are even feeling like hostages. Our State Department has not been doing enough to bring these U.S. citizens and Green Card holders home,” said George. “They are in hiding, they are waiting for a call from the State Department. The State Department has called some of them, and in some cases the State Department individual asks to speak with a two-year-old U.S. citizen. Not very helpful. They’re, I’m afraid to say, a little disorganized and they are not taking this seriously enough and our people are suffering.”
Standing with leaders from IRIS, Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI), Danbury Area Refugee Assistance (DARA), and the Connecticut Immigrant and Refugee Coalition (CIRC), Blumenthal also urged Congress to provide additional funding for resettlement efforts as thousands of Afghan refugees begin arriving in Connecticut and across the country.
“Welcoming those refugees means more than words. It means assistance, services, jobs, shelter, housing, and education – all of the necessary resettlement services that will enable these refugees to become productive new Americans,” Blumenthal said. “We ought to make it a priority that additional financial assistance should go to these organizations and the work that they do.”