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Six Queens Legislators, Among Others, Call on Biden to Bring Afghan Refugees to New York

Young boys in Afghanistan, UnSplash Nov. 25, 2020

Aug. 24, 2021 By Allie Griffin

More than 40 state legislators — including a half dozen from Queens — are calling on President Joseph Biden to welcome Afghan refugees into the country and to set them up in New York.

Queens Assembly Member Catalina Cruz and State Sen. Andrew Gounardes of South Brooklyn penned a letter to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging them to accept refugees from Afghanistan.

Cruz and Gournades said New York is ready, willing and able to welcome the refugees into the state once they make it into the U.S.

“While the situation in Afghanistan unfolds, we write to you as elected officials from New York State saying we will welcome asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan and stand ready to support them when they are here,” they wrote in a letter dated Aug. 19.

The letter was signed by nearly 40 other state legislators — including an additional five from Queens.

Queens Assembly Members Brian Barnwell and Jessica Gonzáles-Rojas signed on — along with Senators Michael Gianaris, John Liu and Jessica Ramos.

The officials said New York has the infrastructure to help Afghan asylum seekers.

“Our state is among the best equipped to take in and support these families,” the officials said.

They said there are several organizations in New York that could help Afghan refugees settle in the state. In addition, they note, there is the New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program (NYSESRP), a state-run program that assists newly-arrived refugees.

The program was created in 2017 in response to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from similar federal programs.

“There are fantastic organizations doing resettlement work across the state that can provide them with assistance and services they need,” the legislators wrote.

The lawmakers noted that there are an estimated 30,000 Afghans who are eligible for evacuation and added that New York is ready to help them.

“We hope you will consider New York as a new home for those who have aided our efforts overseas for the past twenty years and who deserve the safety our country can provide,” they wrote.

The U.S. has been evacuating thousands of American citizens and allies in Afghanistan over the last week or so. The U.S. military has evacuated 58,000 people since Aug. 14, when the Taliban took control of Kabul, according to the New York Times.

The administration, however, has struggled to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies, and the mission is becoming more hazardous as the Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw troops looms.

The Taliban said Tuesday that is blocking Afghans who wish to flee the country from accessing the airport in Kabul.

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2 Comments

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MRLIC

While I understand these people want freedom from the Taliban. NYC and State has its own problems
We can’ t help our homeless and. Veterans but can help refugees.
Let some other state or country take them..We also have many illegals hete. I would rather help the Afgans than the illegal immigrants.

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Chas

These people deserve better than being place in NYC. We can barely take care of the homeless that are here. Having them placed in a crummy hotel by JFK is a diservice to their humanity. There a nicer cities and staes that can also receive the resources from the FED GOV to take care of them .
They have already been through a tramatic experience, now give them some peace in a more welcoming enviroment.
I’m not opposed to them coming to NYC, but this is not a friendly place and they deserve better.

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