Sacramento, CA

Sacramento officials recognize resettlement agencies helping Afghan refugees

Robert J Hansen

Mayor, Supervisor and Assemblymember say Afghan refugees will have services needed for resettlement

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Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg (left) speaks at a press conference on the Afghan refugee crisis on Nov. 22.(Photo by Robert J Hansen)

Sacramento, Calif.- by Robert J Hansen

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, County Supervisor Phil Serna, and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty held a press conference today highlighting the ongoing efforts to support the resettlement of Afghan refugees.

The Sacramento region has been and will remain a top destination for many Afghan families as it expects as many as 7,000 Afghan refugees to resettle here in the coming month according to the Mayor.

“We say yes in Sacramento and we’re saying yes once again,” Steinberg said. “This is in some ways a humanitarian crisis but also a humanitarian opportunity. But most of our work is in front of us with more than 5,000 refugees still to come to the Greater Sacramento region.”

Local resettlement agencies, such as the International Rescue Committee, Opening Doors, Inc., and World Relief Sacramento, have spent the last couple of months providing an array of wrap-around services to help Afghan refugees settle into their new lives in the US according to the Mayor’s office.

“We created essentially a one-stop where immigrants could get the help they needed. Whether it was housing assistance, whether it was legal assistance, or mental health services. That’s the Sacramento way,” Steinberg said.

With resettlement efforts slated to continue throughout the holidays and into next year, several local Afghan-led organizations and other community stakeholders have come together to form the American Network of Services for Afghan Refugees of Sacramento Valley (ANSAR), a new group that will help meet the needs of Afghan families.

Supervisor Serna represented the Board of Supervisors in support of Afghan refugees which allocated $5 million in September to go towards the resettlement efforts.

“Oftentimes you may hear about the City and the County not seeing eye to eye on some things. Those days are in our rearview mirror,” Serna said. “We are making the effort to make sure that we live up to our obligation to welcome those that are fleeing the horrors the Taliban are committing in Afghanistan. That is one of the most fundamental obligations that we have.”

Serna wants to ensure that the public understands the strong commitment the County and City have to see that refugees are connected to the available services.

“The Board of Supervisors feel so strongly about this … back in September we appropriated $5 million to make sure that we had at least the starting resources that are required from day one,” Serna said.

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Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (left) Executive Director Gulshan Yusufzai (right) at a press conference about Afghan refugees on Nov. 22.(Photo by Robert Hansen)

Assemblymember McCarty said taking in refugees is not new for Sacramento.

“California is the largest recipient of refugees over the last 15 years but going back 40 years Sacramento has always been a place that’s welcomed refugees,” McCarty.

McCarty recognized the five local refugee resettlement organizations tasked with resettling the nearly 7,000 refugees that will be coming to Sacramento from now through next year.

“This is something that we all need to step up and roll up our sleeves and work on together,” McCarty said.

Executive director of the Muslim American Society Social Service Foundation, Gulshan Yusufzai, thanked the elected leaders for their support.

“It seems like yesterday when we arrived at the Sacramento airport. As traumatic as it is to flee from a violent country like Afghanistan, somehow riding on a bareback mule while the echoes of bombs were flying all around us, those traumatic experiences recede to the waters of my mind,” Yusufzai said.

“It is our good fortune that the city of Sacramento is in charge right now. This refugee crisis is very close to my heart,” Yusufzai said. “What we’re trying to do is make the boulder much less heavy and make the ball that much lighter.”

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento, CA
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