Oklahoma, which over the course of the 20-year war had resettled a relatively small number of Afghans, is slated to resettle 1,800 new arrivals.
Many of the new evacuees requested to be resettled in those states because they already have family and close friends living in those states, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the calls to state government officials. Resettlement agencies also have a large presence and capacity in many of those states.
The State Department resettled evacuees based on the advice of local affiliates of nine national resettlement agencies the U.S. government is working with, the officials said.
The officials said Afghan evacuees are advised that other parts of the country -- including areas with plentiful job openings and cheaper housing -- could be good places to begin their new lives in the U.S.
The Afghan evacuees go through a Department of Homeland Security-coordinated process of security vetting before being admitted. And every evacuee who comes into the United States also goes through health screening. Evacuees who are 12 and older are required to get the COVID-19 vaccination as a term of their humanitarian parolee status after entering the country.
Still, there have been unexpected complications.
U.S.-bound flights for evacuees who had been staying temporarily in third-country processing sites were halted last week after measles cases were discovered among several Afghans who had recently arrived in the U.S.
Some of the recent Afghan arrivals could also face a tough road ahead if Congress doesn't take action to treat them as refugees arriving in the U.S.
The Afghan evacuees are not currently eligible for food stamps, cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for low income families, Medicaid or other traditional refugee services that are funded through the Department of Health and Human Services.
Currently, each Afghan evacuee is slated to receive $1,225 to help with rent, furniture and food and provide a small amount of pocket money. Biden has called on Congress to take action to ensure that the recent arrivals have access to the same benefits as refugees.
Afghan refugees are processed at Fort Bliss' Doña Ana Village where they are being housed, in New Mexico, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. The Biden administration provided the first public look inside the U.S. military base where Afghans airlifted out of Afghanistan are screened, amid questions about how the government is caring for the refugees and vetting them. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Credit: David Goldman
Credit: David Goldman