TYLER, Texas (KLTV) – Days after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Refugee Services of Texas is now working to help hundreds of Afghan nationals resettle in the Lone Star State. Mark Hagar is the Dallas-area director for the organization. He says they work to help refugees get going with life in the U.S.
“We will provide school enrollment for the children, get all of the clients their required immunizations, and then it carries on into other integration services like getting them employed and getting them set up with cultural orientation as well to make sure that they’re equipped with the knowledge of what it means to be an American and what the U.S. laws are,” Hagar said.
Many of the refugees will be processed at military bases like Fort Bliss in El Paso.
“It’s a 13-step process. Refugees and SIVs go through a very rigorous vetting, background security clearance, medical checks including COVID testing before they’re approved to travel to their final destination,” Hagar said.
The refugees apply for Special Immigrant Visas, or SIVs, allowing them to stay in the U.S. legally and eventually allows them to apply for citizenship. Many have spent their time in Afghanistan employed by the U.S. government as translators, or other jobs helpful to the U.S.
“Their lives were on the line just as our U.S. forces and coalition forces. In many ways, they’re heroes just like our veterans who were not refugees or SIVs,” Hagar said.
Over the next few weeks, the Refugee Services of Texas says it will settle 324 Afghans in places like Dallas, Austin, and Houston.
“They get jobs in a very short time and are then able to then start contributing back to the society that’s welcomed them here in the U.S.,” Hagar said.
The Department of Defense says up to 30,000 Afghan refugees will be housed on U.S. military bases in the coming weeks.
Written by Julian Esparza