Lutheran Social Services says many Afghans who had to leave their country at the last-minute, couldn’t secure the federal financial assistance needed to make a go of it here.
“Yeah, it was a very difficult decision to make, but we believe that resettlement has to be responsible and that we owe it to our community to make sure that people are arriving that they’ve been successfully integrated,” LSS Chief Operating Officer Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen said [Perry Groten, “Sioux Falls Restaurant Owner Hopes Afghan Evacuees Can Someday Resettle in South Dakota,” KELO-TV, 2021.09.17].
Darn: it’s too bad a poor agricultural prairie state like ours can’t muster enough resources on its own to provide shelter and support to people who helped us fight tyrants in a foreign land for twenty years and are now fleeing oppression.
Wait: a prairie state like ours can afford to help Afghan refugees. North Dakota is taking 49 Afghan refugees, and they’re getting federal funds and permission to work:
The North Dakota Department of Human Services announced Friday that it has been notified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that North Dakota will receive 49 legal and fully vetted Afghan evacuees.
The refugees will begin arriving later this month through the Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) program.
The federally funded APA program is a part of Operation Allies Welcome and does not impact resources available to North Dakotans in need of safety net services.
These 49 individuals are part of the 37,000 humanitarian evacuees who will be resettled to 200 communities in the U.S. through the APA program. The majority of the 49 evacuees will resettle in Fargo.
Before arriving in the country, these individuals must complete a U.S. Department of Homeland Security rigorous vetting process that includes Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint-based background checks and other security screenings. They will also receive health and medical screenings, a COVID-19 vaccination and authorization to work [Nathalie Gomez, “Majority of Afghan Refugees Coming to ND Will Resettle in Fargo,” KXNews, 2021.09.17].
North Dakota is eager to have these refugees enter a mutually beneficial relationship with their fair state:
“Like so many North Dakotans with immigrant roots, refugees bring ingenuity and resilience that make our communities and the economy stronger,” Human Services Executive Director Chris Jones said in a statement. “Resettlement provides a life-saving solution for some of the most vulnerable people in the world and it also creates positive benefits for North Dakota.”
North Dakota has resettled 115 Afghan refugees in the past 20 years. Some have become doctors and business owners, “and have held a variety of careers that contribute to North Dakota’s economic well-being,” according to Human Services [Jack Dura, “North Dakota to Receive 49 Afghan Refugees; Unclear If Any Will Settle in Bismarck,” Bismarck Tribune, updated 2021.09.19].
Sanford Health is ready to hire those Fargo-bound newcomers:
Brittany Sachdeva, vice president of operations for Sanford Health in Fargo, said in a statement that “As one of the largest employers in the state, we understand the positive impact those new to our country can have in helping solve our collective workforce challenges. We look forward to welcoming them to North Dakota and encourage them to join our Sanford family” [Dura, 2021.09.19].
Sanford could hire those smart Afghan doctors and other professional in Sioux Falls, too, but alas, South Dakota just doesn’t have what it takes to make newcomers feel welcome.