KANSAS CITY, Mo. – U.S. State Department data obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday detailed how a first group of 37,000 arrivals will be resettled in each state. The arrivals fled from Afghanistan when the U.S. ended its long war there and withdrew last month. President Joe Biden’s administration has asked Congress for funding to resettle 65,000 Afghans by the end of this month and 95,000 by September of next year.
The State Department says Missouri is expected to receive 1,200 Afghanistan evacuees from a first group arriving for resettlement in the United States. It was unclear how many were destined for Illinois.
Some refugees from the region have already started to arrive in the St. Louis area. The International Institute of St. Louis said Tuesday it expects our area alone to be home to roughly 1,400 Afghans. The Institute has been blown away by the outpouring of donations to help those refugees, so much so that it is asking for people to stop making in-kind donations that have filled three storage facilities and a warehouse until an inventory can be taken to figure out what else is truly needed.
Cash and grocery gift card donations are still being accepted.
The State Department resettled evacuees based on the advice of local affiliates of nine national resettlement agencies the U.S. government is working with, the officials said.
The Afghan evacuees go through a Department of Homeland Security-coordinated process of security vetting before being admitted. And every evacuee who comes into the United States also goes through health screening. Evacuees who are 12 and older are required to get the COVID-19 vaccination as a term of their humanitarian parolee status after entering the country.
Still, there have been unexpected complications.
U.S.-bound flights for evacuees who had been staying temporarily in third-country processing sites were halted last week after measles cases were discovered among several Afghans who had recently arrived in the U.S.
Some of the recent Afghan arrivals could also face a tough road ahead if Congress doesn’t take action to treat them as refugees arriving in the U.S.
The Afghan evacuees are not currently eligible for food stamps, cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for low income families, Medicaid or other traditional refugee services that are funded through the Department of Health and Human Services.
Currently, each Afghan evacuee is slated to receive $1,225 to help with rent, furniture and food and provide a small amount of pocket money. Biden has called on Congress to take action to ensure that the recent arrivals have access to the same benefits as refugees.