The U.S. Department of State has announced that 75 Afghan refugees will be settled in Missoula.

Comments have been coming in from the offices of Governor Greg Gianforte, Senator Steve Daines and U.S. Representative Matt Rosendale.

Senator Daines’ office wrote:

‘These are refugees that love America. They have risked their lives for our country. It is our duty to ensure that they are allowed a way to get away from the Taliban. Had they stayed there, they would have been killed. They are grateful to be in America and Montanans need to be grateful and welcome them for how they helped us in Afghanistan.’

Governor Greg Gianforte provided this statement.

‘With its ill-planned, catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Biden administration has left American citizens as Taliban hostages and has abandoned our Afghan allies who, as a result of supporting and helping U.S. troops, are at grave risk. Montana welcomes our fully-vetted Afghan allies who worked alongside us, have left their homes in the face of the Taliban's reemerging, merciless terror, and seek freedom and safety.’.

U.S. Representative Matt Rosendale had the only cautionary note in his statement from his office on Thursday.

‘Today I learned that 75 refugees from Afghanistan will be arriving in Montana. I strongly oppose the resettlement of these Afghan nationals in Montana. Following the Biden Administration’s disastrously mismanaged withdrawal from Afghanistan, I warned that we could not use this Administration’s incompetence to justify flooding our communities with unvetted refugees. The traditional vetting process for these individuals is a 14-step procedure that takes well over a year. The mass evacuation of over 100,000 Afghan nationals in a matter of weeks has made proper vetting of these individuals nearly impossible. At this time, it appears extremely unlikely the Biden Administration properly vetted the Afghan nationals being resettled in Montana. I have advocated that we should try and settle these individuals in other countries around Afghanistan that share their values and culture, especially if we can not ensure proper vetting. As elected officials, it is our duty to protect the citizens we represent—and I will not allow this Administration to compromise the safety of Montanans.’

KGVO reached out to the Missoula Office of the International Rescue Committee regarding the coming Afghan ‘humanitarian parolees’.

Deputy Director Eamon Fahey has details.

“We have submitted an application with the State Department through our headquarters for our Missoula office to welcome 75 what are called Afghan Humanitarian Parolees,” said Fahey. So, very soon,  Afghan people who have fled harm's way in Afghanistan and are going to be resettled in our community.”

Fahey explained why the humanitarian parolees will be settled in or near Missoula.

“The IRC in Missoula is the only resettlement agency in the state of Montana,” he said. “We've been working in Missoula for the past five years and in order to resettle refugees, ‘Special Immigrant Visas’ or now what are called ‘Humanitarian Parolees’ from Afghanistan, you have to have a resettlement agency do that work. So that's why our office is handling this and we would be interested at some point and possibly resettling into other Montana communities, but there are logistical hurdles we'd have to get around in order to do that.”

Fahey said many of those coming to Missoula fled from Afghanistan to save their lives.

“Some of them will have been working with us; some as interpreters while others may have been helping Special Forces sweeping minefields,” he said. “These were people that were in harm's way for sure, and more than likely because they've helped American efforts in the past 20 years. Many of them are coming here because they are in fear for their lives.”

Fahey said the first of the humanitarian parolees will be arriving within the next few weeks.

“This is happening imminently,” he said. “We're likely to see some of the Humanitarian Parolees as soon as October 1 or sometime in early October, and so getting a program up and running in another community say, Helena or Great Falls, Kalispell or Butte or even going as far as his Billings or Bozeman would take a little bit of time that we don't have unfortunately.”


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