Support for Afghan Refugees Is Both Popular and “a Moral Obligation”

As the last evacuation flight by the American military leaves Kabul, new polling shows wide support for Afghan refugees in the U.S.

Providing refuge to Afghans and their families who assisted America has broad public support from both Republicans and Democrats, according to a late August CBS poll. In total, 81 percent of Americans say they believe the U.S. should help Afghans who worked for U.S. troops and officials resettle in America—including 90 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Independents.

According to the White House, over 120,000 have been evacuated from Afghanistan so far. But the International Rescue Committee says 300,000 Afghans are still in “great danger” and in need of evacuation. The CBS poll also shows nearly 60 percent of Americans say the U.S. government isn’t doing enough to help Afghans trying to leave the country.

“Processing overseas is something that takes a really long time,” said Meredith Owen, the director of policy and advocacy for the immigration and refugee program at the Church World Service, a national resettlement agency. “And we don’t have time. We need to be bringing people to the United States and its territories immediately through humanitarian parole, and then processing them at that point. We truly have a moral obligation to protect people that we’ve pledged to.” 

On Sunday, 98 countries—including the U.S.—publicly pledged to continue to take in people fleeing Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

The top five states for Afghan refugee resettlement are as follows: California; Virginia; Texas; New York; Washington; and Maryland.

Despite widespread support for Afghan refugee resettlement, Donald Trump and a small group of U.S. Republicans are attempting to make the topic another cultural wedge issue. One Republican—Rep. Matt Rosendale (Mont.)—said the humanitarian crisis should not be “an excuse to flood” the U.S. with Afghan refugees.

There is little truth to the narrative that refugees have a negative impact on crime rates or security. According to Politico‘s Anita Kumar, “Research shows refugees coming to the United States in recent decades committed crimes at a lower rate than the general population and were not responsible for any credible threats to the homeland.”

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Roxy Szal is the managing digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast On the Issues With Michele Goodwin. She is also a mentor editor for The OpEd Project. Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.