September 30, 2021
The following was sent to IILA volunteers to provide updates on the status of Afghan refugees arriving in Los Angeles, the response of the International Institute of Los Angeles, and our anticipated needs to serve arriving families.
Firstly, thank you so much for filling out our Refugee Volunteer Screening form and providing us with your offered services and items. We are fortunate to have received over 1,000 volunteer interest submissions since our Act Now for Afghan Allies campaign was launched in August, so we appreciate your patience and understanding as our staff processes these submissions and identifies good matches for arriving families. IILA has resettled 35 individuals from Afghanistan and we are expecting 350 more arrivals in the next six months. IILA is one of only three agencies resettling Afghans in Los Angeles county and neighboring counties.
Thank you to all the volunteers who have generously offered space in their homes to host refugees. Please note that the majority of arriving families consists of 5 or more people, so we are currently prioritizing hosts with larger accommodations so that we can keep families together. Our staff will be in touch if there is a good fit for your space. If you have signed up to offer other volunteer services, our staff will reach out when there is a need for your services and if we require a background check.
Updates from our partners at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI):
- We are currently in the midst of a temporary pause on new Afghans arriving at US military bases due to a non-COVID related medical issue that arose at two of the bases. This has also delayed arrivals to Los Angeles, but IILA expects the arrivals to resume in the next week or so.
- USCRI has taken in or been assigned 1,228 Afghans as of last week – this includes Special Immigrant Visa Holders (SIVs) and humanitarian parolees (evacuees who have been vetted and allowed to enter the US, but still need to apply for asylum). USCRI will then partner with agencies such as IILA to resettle these families.
- Health measures: All individuals resettled by IILA have received medical screenings, medical care, vaccinations, and other public health measures at military bases. According to USCIS, Afghan parolees are now required to get vaccinated for MMR, polio, and one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (as well as taking a TB test). Their parole is subject to proof of vaccine.
- Security measures: All individuals resettled by IILA have undergone rigorous vetting processes by federal agencies. Individuals’ biographic and biometric information are checked against multiple national security and criminal record databases. Read more here.
- About 18,000 Afghans are currently at “third-countries” undergoing vetting and medical screenings.
- About 53,500 Afghans are currently at 8 military bases in the US.
Update on IILA priorities:
Our highest priorities at the moment include:
- Landlords willing to rent property to refugee families and willing to reduce or waive credit check, proof of income, and deposit requirements
- Employment opportunities
- Dari and/or Pashto speakers
- Legal services to help parolees with their application for asylum
- Financial contributions from the community to help cover resettlement costs. The estimated resettlement costs for a family is $20,000, which includes 6 months of rent & deposit assistance, transportation assistance, computers, and other basic necessities and services. To make a contribution toward these resettlement costs, please click here.
Update on in-kind donations:
At this time, we are finding that donations of household items, clothing, and furniture are not a major priority. The needs of each family vary greatly and we do not have the staff capability to immediately coordinate hundreds of different donation offers to families. We are expecting families to arrive for many months to come and we are not able to store any donated items before they are needed. If you have already indicated what items you have to offer on the form, our staff will reach out if and when there is an immediate need.
IILA expects families to arrive for many months to come, so we thank you for your patience and understanding as we coordinate the unique needs of each family. As the global refugee situation and the priorities of arriving families continue to evolve, please check back on our website for periodic updates: https://www.iilosangeles.org/actnowforafghanallies/
We sincerely thank you for your generosity and compassion. With your generous offers of housing, time, services, and resources, you have helped us send a powerful message that our community is willing to aid our Afghan allies and refugees from around the world. When refugees are given the tools to become self-sufficient, they are empowered to fully participate in and give back to their communities. This is possible thanks to you.
If you need to make updates to your volunteer screening form or have other questions, please reach out to Volunteer Coordinator Elma Betancourt at email@example.com.