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Iowa exploring accepting more refugees from Afghanistan

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 8:04 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A spokesperson from the Iowa Department of Human Services said the state of Iowa is exploring how it can continue to support Afghan Special Immigrant Visa recipients.

The Special Immigrant Visa, also known as an SIV, is offered to people living in Afghanistan and Iraq who supported the U.S. military. This would include people, like translators. This is a special pathway because the military already vetted these refugees.

The process is different for other refugees who are just trying to escape the Taliban. They must still get screened by the State Department, which could likely take longer than 18 months.

Since Fiscal Year 2017, 94 Iraqi and Afghan SIV recipients settled in Iowa.

Sara Zejnic, who is the director of refugee and immigrant services at the Catherine McAuley Center, said those numbers are lower in Iowa because these types of refugees have more choices on where they want to live. She said they typically choose areas with larger Afghan communities.

”So typically, we see Iraqi and Afghans SIV stay close to the community,” Zejnic said. “Iowa doesn’t have as strong of an Afghan Community, currently, and Iraqi and Afghan SIVs will stay close to U-S military bases.”

Zejnic said those numbers will likely increase in Iowa, so no resettlement office isn’t overburdened.

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