Minnesota braces for influx of Afghan refugees

Reports seem to suggest that the U.S. has evacuated more Afghans than American citizens from Afghanistan as the country falls to Taliban rule.

Afghan refugees fill an American C-17 plane.

Minnesota groups are preparing for an influx of refugees from Afghanistan, which is controlled by the Taliban.

Both current President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump worked to secure a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is now almost complete. However, expert critics say U.S. efforts to nation build in Afghanistan over the last 20 years and the final stages of America’s exit were “clearly botched,” as the Taliban promptly seized control of the country. Amidst this chaos, thousands of Afghans are trying to come to America with the support of the current administration.

Thus far, the Department of Defense (DOD) has declared it will house up to 30,000 Afghan refugees in locations ranging from Fort McCoy in Wisconsin to Fort Bliss in Texas. This is about three times as many refugees as the U.S. accepted in the entirety of last year.

Minnesota non-governmental organizations are already preparing for an “influx” of refugees to their state, per the Star Tribune. These migrants are predicted to arrive on “Special Immigrant Visas” (SIVs) and will likely be aided by the $500 million Biden pledged to move Afghans to America.

The Minnesota Council of Churches, Arrive Ministries and the International Institute of Minnesota are all private groups taking action to bring more Afghans to the state. The latter of these organizations has already resettled 13 Afghans over the last week, per the Tribune.

On its website, Arrive Ministries says it will be “providing apartments, jobs, and basic household items for an estimated 35 Afghan refugees by the end of next month.”

Minnesota is famous for its migrant intake, welcoming the most refugees per capita of any state. This has led to unique demographics unlike those seen anywhere else in America. The Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis is the most diverse in the country, Arrive Ministries says. Minneapolis is home to more Somalis than anywhere else in the U.S. St. Paul is home to the largest Hmong community in America.

Meanwhile, up to 15,000 Americans remain trapped in Afghanistan. There is no plan or existing infrastructure to transport these Americans to the Kabul airport where they can be flown to safety.

As of Tuesday night, only 1,100 Americans were flown out of the country, per NBC, compared to 2,000 “Afghan allies” who have been evacuated.

The White House also declined to say that it will prioritize Americans in its evacuation efforts. A Pentagon spokesperson echoed this sentiment.