(The Center Square) – A federal agency has named Phoenix the ideal location for Afghan refugees to resettle.
The U.S. government is assisting thousands of Afghans in finding new homes after they fled what’s now a Taliban-controlled country. Governors and mayors from New York to California expressed their desire to help these refugees.
Gov. Doug Ducey and House Speaker Rusty Bowers released a joint statement Aug. 19, saying the refugees had a home in Arizona.
“Despite the President’s poor response to growing tensions in the Middle East, Arizona recognizes the service of thousands of Afghans over the last 20 years,” the statement said. “As refugees come and find homes in states across the nation, we welcome them to our state full of opportunity and choice, and we’re working closely with federal and state officials to offer them safety in Arizona.”
Ducey and Bowers said the Arizona Office of Refugee Resettlement would “work with refugees to secure housing and employment, enroll in English classes if needed, connect them with health care resources, and their children – including their daughters who would be denied an education under the Taliban – will be enrolled in school.”
Although other states, namely California and New York, have higher concentrations of Afghan communities, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs lists the Phoenix as the most opportune place in the country for those seeking to resettle.
The list of 19 cities is sorted by “reasonable cost of living, housing availability, employment opportunities, and strong resettlement services and support.”
Refugees working with the bureau are given $1,100 in a monthly stipend for the first three months once they arrive in the country.
Even though California has communities such as Fremont’s Little Kabul that’s known as the largest concentration of Afghan residents in the country, the bureau discourages settlement there.
“Please be aware that the cost of living and the availability of housing can vary significantly in different locations across the United States,” the bureau said. “The Washington, DC metro area including northern Virginia and some cities in California are very expensive places to live, and it can be difficult to find reasonable housing and employment. Any resettlement benefits you receive may not comfortably cover the cost of living in these areas.”
UPDATE: The bureau removed the list of 19 cities from its resettlement page over the weekend. A State Department spokesperson said the change was to "maximize potential placement options and flexibility" and would eventually use the list again once the placement process becomes more normalized. The official maintains that the list was for refugees to self-select a place to resettle should they not have close ties in the U.S.
In the meantime, the bureau would continue working with its nine resettlement partners and affiliates across the country to resettle refugees, they said.