St. Louis (August 17, 2021)
St. Louisans, like our fellow Americans, are deeply saddened by the humanitarian situation unfolding in Afghanistan. Yesterday, the Department of Defense confirmed that it is in the process of evacuating at least 20,000 Afghan citizens, through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. Over the last 20 years, these Afghan citizens fought alongside the United States during the war as translators, clerks, contractors, and community leaders.
“We, as the leaders of St. Louis City and St. Louis County, have heard our community’s call to action to help these families. St. Louis has a long history of welcoming refugees and immigrants to the region, we are ready, willing, and prepared to lead the nation in inviting these Afghan SIV holders to our community.
“St. Louis City and St. Louis County together are ready to welcome at least 1,000 Afghan citizens through the SIV program, and we will work with our community partners to support any additional migration to the region by Afghan families and friends to help with reunification efforts.
“The St. Louis region provides a safe and secure new home for these resettled SIV holders, and they, in turn, offer a tremendous amount of skill, talent, and culture that will enhance and enrich our community. This plan is consistent with our collective goal to build a more welcoming and inclusive St. Louis region, no matter where they come from or any identity they hold.
“We are committed to working together to help foster a welcoming environment for our new neighbors. We have been actively working with our community stakeholders to build capacity and mobilize the necessary resources to attract, welcome, and resettle new families to this community. This diverse public-private coalition is being led by the International Institute, our region’s largest refugee resettlement agency, which has extensive experience with resettling SIV holders.
“We appreciate the federal and state support thus far in our effort to help our Afghan neighbors. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing the region’s call to action and how you can help make St. Louis the new home for these families seeking a better life as new Americans.”