Organizations prepare for arrival of Afghan refugees | Non-profit organizations

Local charities are preparing to welcome 300 Afghan refugees in Nashville following the withdrawal of the US military from the country and its takeover by the Taliban. Catholic Charities of Tennessee and the Nashville International Center for Empowerment both have contracts with the US State Department to receive and assist refugees.

Each of the organizations will help half of the 300 refugees, according to spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Rick Musacchio.

“300 refugees will not arrive at the BNA [all at once], “he said.” This is an orderly and phased process. “

He said Catholic Charities expects to receive its first group of refugees – a family of four – within two weeks. The refugees will be resettled in phases until March 2022, according to Musacchio.

All refugees are currently being checked and accommodated by the State Department in an undisclosed location, he said.

Upon arrival, refugees will be legal residents of the United States, which means they have the right to work and pay taxes. Their children can also attend public schools, Musacchio said.

However, due to the emergency circumstances around the airlift, Afghan refugees will not be eligible for refugee resettlement assistance or other federal benefits, he added.

“In a normal situation, refugees would receive SNAP, EBT and TennCare health benefits for their first 90 days here, but Afghan refugees are under what they call ‘parole status’ so they will not receive any benefits. these benefits, ”said Sabina Mohyuddin. , Executive Director of the American Muslim Advisory Council.

A group of local nonprofits including Catholic Charities, NICE and the Tennessee Office for Refugees will raise funds and receive donations to provide refugees with basic necessities such as groceries and household items. toilet.

Regarding housing, Catholic Charities and NICE depend on their existing relationships with local landlords to house refugees.

“We welcome refugees all the time, so we have an existing network of businesses and individuals to contact,” Musacchio said. “Of course, we’re always looking to recruit more, but this isn’t our first rodeo.”

Musachio said the organizations were actively working to recruit more companies to hire the Afghan refugees. A study on the cost of resettling federal refugees in Tennessee showed that between 1990 and 2012, the state spent just over $ 753 million to help Tennessee refugees, but the refugees generated more than $ 1 , $ 4 billion in tax revenue in the state.

“Refugees should not be seen as a matter of charity,” he said. “They contribute more to our economy than they receive.”

Although Republican leaders in Tennessee were quick to criticize the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, few said the state should accept Afghan refugees, including those who aided the US military. Governor Bill Lee’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“The 300 Afghan refugees that Tennessee is invited to take in represent a very small percentage of our state’s population,” US Representative Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) said through a spokesperson. “We should welcome the Afghans who helped our troops survive translate for them and other services. Catholic Charities and NICE do a noble job of helping our fellow human beings. This is an opportunity for our generation to prove that we can to be good Samaritans.

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