Monday, August 30, 2021
Immigprof blog has been writing about the impact of the Biden Administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan on military interpreters and others fleeing persecution and violence at the hands of the Taliban. Since Aug. 14, the U.S. has helped more than 114,400 people evacuate Afghanistan -- many of them people who have assisted the U.S. during their 20-years in the country -- on Special Immigrant Visas and humanitarian parole. The news media has shown horrifying images of people trying to flee. This article by Anita Kumar in Politico describes the state resistance to refugee resettlement that awaits those who make it out of their embattled country to the US.
Refugee resettlement is an operation that requires state cooperation with the federal government. It is a case study for immigration federalism (as Stella Burch Elias has written about). The State Department has identified 19 “welcoming” communities where Afghans could settle based on local support, resources, including house, and cost of living.
Only one of those communities has a Republican leader. Indeed, a vocal group of Republican state leaders oppose the resettlement of Afghan refugees in the U.S., claiming the refugees could be dangerous or that admitting them will change the country in ways that are culturally or politically threatening.
For example, Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana says the chaos in Afghanistan should not be “an excuse to flood” the U.S. with refugees and plans to urge the Montana Governor to reject refugees from resettling in Montana without adequate vetting.
“We have to make sure that the people that enter into our country want to support our country, not want to attack our country.”
The Biden Administration is aware of a parrallel resistance to settling Syrian refugees during the Obama administration. At that time, thirty governors (29 of them Republicans) tried to ban Syrian refugees from entering their states. An executive order during the Trump administration permitted states to oppose refugee resettlement, but it was less successful with nearly all states opting to remain open to refugees who bring resources to revitalize communities struggling with population loss and workforce transitions.