“Settle you safely and with dignity”; Five Afghan families arrive in eastern Massachusetts next week

As the first family arrives in Massachusetts and moves into their new home in Worcester County, the International Institute of New England (IINE) prepares to relocate seven families in eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire next week.

Jeffery Thielman, President and CEO of IINE, said they are considering housing five families in New Bedford, Lynn and Lowell. According to Thielman, the latter already has more than 330 Afghan refugees whom they previously resettled.

“I think we’ll be in good shape,” Thielman told MassLive on Wednesday. “We’ll have apartments for every single family that arrives next week.”

The exact dates have not been confirmed, but Thielman has been told by the U.S. Committee on Refugees and Immigrants, IINE’s statewide partner, that they are still working to confirm this. They added that the IINE should prepare for the arrival of an increasing number of Afghans.

“We have told our national office that in addition to the 200 in Massachusetts, we can bring 50 people through our New Hampshire operation,” said Thielman. “To that, our national bureau said, ‘Well, maybe you need to take more.'”

Massachusetts has been informed by the federal government that it will accept a total of about 1,100 evacuees in the coming weeks.

Aid organizations such as Ascentria and JFSWM are under the patronage of nine private US volunteer agencies (VOLAG) and a state agency to deal with a humanitarian crisis such as the refugee situation in Afghanistan.

They have cooperation agreements with the State Department to take in and accommodate refugees arriving in the United States

The nine VOLAGs are:

  • World Service of the Church.
  • Episcopal Ministries of Migration.
  • Ethiopian Community Development Council.
  • HIAS – The Global Jewish Nonprofit Organization.
  • International Rescue Committee.
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
  • US Committee on Refugees and Immigrants.
  • Catholic Bishops Conference of the United States.
  • World help.

The IINE was not informed of the size of the individual families or their previous work experience. Additionally, this may not be known until they arrive in the state.

Thielman said his organization’s role is to find work for those arriving so that they can eventually support themselves and air-condition themselves in the area they are being relocated to.

Each of the arriving evacuees should be in possession of an Employment Permit Document (EAD). An EAD is a way of proving that a person is allowed to work in the United States for a certain period of time.

This should have already been provided, but Thielman said otherwise the IINE can help those who need it to apply.

“We don’t know what situations people will find themselves in. We don’t know enough details about family size, how many children there are, how old the children are, what skills the adults have.” Family and how quickly they can find a job, ”says Thielman. “That happens again and again with refugees. We don’t know much about her until we sit down and interview her. “

Many of the families coming to the US have been on military bases for over a month. Receiving vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccination, and submitting papers for them to arrive, Thielman told MassLive.

He said one of the challenges he has seen in his career is getting many to pursue academic or other careers in their country of origin and being asked to work in a grocery store in the United States

Traditionally, refugees come to the US and want to work, Thielman said. He gave a hypothetical situation to hit the point.

“The process is not as simple as it may appear from the outside,” added Thielman.

He hypothesized that one of the people who came to the US from Afghanistan may have been a journalist before. Finding the individual job as a journalist in Massachusetts is not that easy due to language barriers and qualifications recognized by the media institution itself. Working in a grocery store might just be the first step towards a future journalistic career.

“The whole process of getting people to recognize this and to give people a feeling for what they can really do professionally takes months, it takes months,” said Thielman.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Afghanistan, the people have been extremely generous, Thielman told MassLive.

The total donations to IINE were $ 650,000, which enabled them to find permanent housing for the families arriving next week. When speaking to MassLive about the work in progress, Thielman mentioned that he had teams looking for more permanent housing. In preparation for future arrivals.

“We are also lobbying for government funding because what we have collected will not be enough,” Thielman said, referring to the 90-day support they can provide.

IINE and other non-profit organizations can only assist evacuees for 90 days from the time of their arrival.

US Senator Ed Markey said in a September 9 statement to MassLive that he would “urge the government to set an admission target of 200,000 refugees by fiscal year 2022”.

“Bay State has hosted refugees in the past and we will once again lead the way in relocating Afghans in need,” said Markey. “We must ensure that the United States supports the social, economic and civic integration of our refugees and gives them the resources to not only survive but thrive in their new homes.”

Governor Charlie Baker tweeted on August 17th, at the height of the Afghanistan crisis, that Massachusetts stands ready to help Afghan refugees seek security and peace in America.

“Massachusetts is excited to welcome the first Afghan evacuees to the Commonwealth and looks forward to working with the federal government and local nonprofits serving these populations as more evacuees arrive in the coming weeks and months,” Baker said in a statement across from MassLive on Wednesday.

In a previous interview with MassLive, Jeff Kinney, chief of strategic development for the Ascentria Care Alliance, pointed out that this just isn’t enough for the people coming into the country from Afghanistan.

“Nationwide, they’re talking about 50,000 of these probation officers,” Kinney said. “How do you get 50,000 people through an asylum procedure in which the immigration courts decide these cases?” [over] two to three years. “

He said that people who come to the US under these circumstances are usually allowed to stay in the country for a year.

Nonprofits like IINE and Ascentria will rely heavily on public funding for the months and possibly years to come. There is funding from both the state and the federal government, but no funding has been announced, according to Kinney.

“Unless we can raise extra money or the federal government can raise extra dollars for the rest,” Kinney said, “we just won’t be physically and financially able to support them beyond their 90-day timeframe.”

Organizations have worked tirelessly since the beginning of the crisis to cope with the influx of people seeking relocation.

“We believe we have a good system and are planning whatever it takes for the next 250 employees. We’re going to take more, ”said Thielman, who added that there is still more planning on the maximum number of people his organization can relocate.

“I don’t think our organization or any other organization should take in people unless you can really accommodate them safely and with dignity,” Thielman said.

Related content:

Almost 1,000 Afghan refugees are expected to arrive in Massachusetts – are we ready?

Massachusetts aid groups prepare for Afghan evacuations

“This is the Time to Help Us”: How Worcester Prepares for the Expected Arrival of Afghan Refugees

About Ellen Lewandowski

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