Plaza Voices: Evacuated from Afghanistan

An estimated 70,000 to 90,000 people evacuated from Afghanistan are expected to arrive in the U.S. following the withdrawal of U.S. troops on August 30, 2021. Colorado is expecting to welcome 1,000 to 2,000 evacuees, mostly in Denver. 

People who served the U.S. government and American contractors, and individuals who supported coalition forces, including journalists and women’s rights activists, have been prioritized for evacuation. Their alliance with the U.S. mission in Afghanistan has put their lives and the lives of their families at risk.

Though many evacuees face similar threats, they may arrive under different immigration statuses. The majority are expected to enter under Humanitarian Parole, a temporary emergency status that allows people to apply for asylum and work authorization. Others will have Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), or be under SQ and SI Parole. 

Afghan evacuees will face a variety of immediate needs, including:

  • Short-term housing and cash assistance
  • Longer term housing aimed at stability 
  • Health response for physical and mental health needs
  • Food stability for parolees eligible for food assistance benefits
  • Employment and training opportunities 
  • Additional supports for resettlement infrastructure capacity needs
  • Legal services for parolees seeking asylum and other pathways to permanency

Three Colorado refugee resettlement agencies will be working to support arriving evacuees: ECDC/African Community Center, International Rescue Committee, and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains. All arriving Afghan evacuees, regardless of immigration status, will be eligible for initial services at these resettlement agencies. 

The best way to help is to donate or volunteer with these agencies. For more information, please see this document from Colorado Refugee Connect, How You Can Help Afghan Newcomers

Additional Resources:

Colorado Refugee Services Program

Frequently Asked Questions about Afghan Arrivals 

Afghan Evacuee Overview and Benefits Eligibility

How You Can Help Afghan Newcomers 

Infographic: state-coordinated refugee assistance 

Video: How do Refugees Get to Colorado

The Denver Public Library's Cultural Inclusivity department collaborates with Denver's multicultural community to create equitable opportunities for learning, discovery, and connection.

We offer Plazas, an open community space where people from all over the world connect with information and resources, building Denver’s global community. Come to practice English, prepare for citizenship, pursue your goals, and create your future. Whatever you’re doing, we can help!

Written by Amma R. on October 1, 2021