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Chicago Prepares to Welcome Hundreds of Afghan Refugees

Illinois News Connection

In the coming weeks and months, more than 500 Afghans are expected to

make their homes in Chicago, following the U.S. withdrawal from and

Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Resettlement agencies are working to support refugees entering Illinois

with housing, employment, English classes, health care and more.

Sima Quraishi, executive director of the Muslim Women Resource Center in

Chicago, fled Afghanistan when she was 10 years old after the Soviet

invasion. She said the people who are fleeing now, like her and her

family before, are in need of support and resources to get on their feet

in a new place.

"Now is the time to stand with our Afghans," Quraishi urged. "It is our

moral obligation to protect, defend and welcome them and their families.

It is central to who I am; it is central to who we are as a nation."

More than a dozen Chicago aldermen on Monday signed a letter

to President Joe Biden, to indicate Chicago is ready and willing to

help bring Afghan allies out of danger and to a welcoming city.

In May, Biden said he plans to increase the refugee cap to 125,000 in the fiscal year starting in October, but some lawmakers are calling for more.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. from Chicago, is calling on the Biden

administration to let in 200,000 refugees next year. She said her office

has heard from hundreds of people trying to get their relatives safely

out of Afghanistan, and she joins calls to give Afghan people Temporary Protected Status in the U.S.

"Afghans of all immigration status must be able to access affordable

housing, food, health care and legal and governmental services,"

Schakowsky argued.

Advocacy groups and resettlement agencies are accepting volunteers and

donations to help refugees with airport pickups, meal assistance,

mentorship, tutoring and other services. They also urged concerned

residents to contact the White House and their representatives in

Congress to express support for helping as many Afghans as possible seek


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