October 6, 2021 Update
As the situation continues to worsen for the Afghan people caught by the conflict and displaced from their homes, churches and organizations are coming together in the Baltimore area to welcome those who are coming to Maryland.
Congress has authorized Afghans arriving to the U.S. with humanitarian parole to receive refugee services and financial assistance. Most Afghans arriving in the U.S. now are being granted this special humanitarian status that was good in processing people quickly but left them without the type of supports available to those with refugee status. Now Afghans with “humanitarian parole” will be eligible for short-term cash assistance and Medicaid, as well as many direct services such as English classes, job search and development and case management.
There is still more the U.S. Government can do for those arriving and those yet to come. The national coalition of faith organizations is asking President Biden to waive the immigration fees for those who are applying for Humanitarian Parole from outside the U.S. ($575 per person!) And we are asking him to expedite the processing of these applications as well as the Employment Authorization Documents required to work in the U.S. And we call on Congress to pass an Afghan Adjustment Act to allow all these same Afghans to apply to become permanent residents.
There are now 2 organizations that will receive Afghans in Baltimore City: International Rescue Committee has already begun receiving Afghans and the Esperanza Center of Catholic Charities which is setting up a new program later this Fall to receive approximately 25 Afghans. They need our help.
A coordination group has formed with these 2 organizations to include ERICA (the local Episcopal ministry with refugees and asylum seekers), Asylee Women’s Enterprise (AWE), Immigration Outreach Service Center (IOSC) and the Presbytery. The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has also offered their assistance.
Look for more news soon on resettlement in Baltimore County & Frederick in the next update!
How can you help?
In addition to the opportunities listed on the organizational websites, there are some new efforts underway to expand the housing and volunteer support for Afghan refugees. If you are already signed up with a local organization, then please continue to work with them directly. Otherwise, please email Susan Krehbiel to express your interest in any of the opportunities listed below.
Afghans need a place to live for an average of 2 weeks when they first arrive. This allows time to sort out their long-term plans and either move them into more permanent housing or help them relocate to another part of the country. The IRC is looking or alternatives to hotel rooms to meet this basic need.
One option would be properties that would be willing to offer space at no or low cost. A pilot “host family” option is also being developed.
Long-term Affordable Housing
Apartment buildings or complexes with safe and affordable rents near public transportation are in real need. Added benefit if near other immigrant communities, a mosque and community services. The IRC will be organizing an information session in late October for potential landlords.
Building Volunteer & Community Support
If you are interested in attending an information session about future opportunities and/or would like to host a conversation with your congregation, please contact Susan Krehbiel. Perhaps you know folks who love to organize teams and coordinate volunteers? Do you know anyone who speaks Dari or Pashto (the primary languages in Afghanistan)?
Let us know of your interest! firstname.lastname@example.org