IILA Resettling Dozens of Afghan Refugees, Anticipating Hundreds More

IILA RESETTLING DOZENS OF AFGHAN REFUGEES, ANTICIPATING HUNDREDS MORE
LA-based refugee services organization helping refugees find housing, employment, community

LOS ANGELES, CA – In the one month since the fall of Kabul to Taliban forces and the launch of the Act Now for Afghan Allies campaign, the International Institute of Los Angeles (IILA) has resettled 5 refugees and 30 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders from Afghanistan, recruited nearly 1,000 volunteers, and raised over $36,000 to aid Afghan families.

IILA is one of only three resettlement agencies serving Afghan refugees in LA County, and  the only agency in Orange, San Bernardino, Kern, and Riverside counties. The Act Now for Afghan Allies campaign has identified hosts to temporarily provide housing for Afghan families, volunteers offering airport reception, transportation, and other services, and businesses large and small offering employment opportunities to refugees.

The local Afghan-American community, in particular, has been instrumental in aiding arriving families, offering Dari and Pashto translation services and a culturally-sensitive understanding of the challenges they face.

IILA is working closely with the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) and expects to resettle 350 Afghan asylum seekers over the next six months, not including a projected 500-600 refugees from other countries and Afghan SIVs. Most of the expected Afghans will enter the US under humanitarian parole, which means they still need to apply for asylum and will not yet be eligible for federal aid programs and benefits available to SIVs and refugees. Even those eligible for federal benefits will find them temporary and limited.

Afghans arriving in LA will face additional challenges of increasing housing shortage, high housing costs, and needing to find employment.

IILA estimates that it costs about $20,000 to assist a resettling family of 6, including employment training and placement, rental assistance, and basic needs for the first 6 months. IILA’s existing Match Grant accelerated employment program has a high success rate of finding jobs for clients in under 6 months. IILA is currently engaged in conversations with local and national businesses offering entry-level positions, positions that provide on-the-job training, and skilled jobs like physicians and nurses.

“The overwhelmingly positive response to our campaign has shown that Angelenos are willing to aid our Afghan allies. The community has been opening their arms and literally opening their doors to welcome refugees,” said Lilian Alba, Vice President of Immigrant & Refugee Services, “We are expecting many more families and individuals to arrive in the coming months. Our highest priorities now are securing affordable housing, finding good job opportunities, and raising funds to help get these families on their feet so that they can become self-sufficient and start participating in our community.”

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