Amarillo nonprofit prepares to help smoothly settle Afghan refugees

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As the U.S. continues its withdrawal from Afghanistan, more refugees are leaving the country. Now, Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle are preparing to take them in as needed.

Jeff Gulde, the executive director, said Friday it is unclear how many Afghan refugees they might need to help settle, but they expect around 11 families.

“The number could be a few more. It could be a few less. So we don’t anticipate large numbers,” Gulde said. “We haven’t been given an exact date, but we’re anticipating somewhere around mid to end of September.”

He said once they learn refugees are coming, they will start working to secure housing. However, housing is in short supply.

“There is a housing shortage in Amarillo right now, and I think it’s due to other people just moving into the city for various reasons,” Gulde said. “So, we are trying to find other landlords who are willing to help work with us to settle these families when they come in.”

He said they need more volunteers to help meet families at the airport and get them immediately into housing for a smooth transition.

“Next steps include for the children of school age, get them registered for school, get them off to the health department to make sure all immunizations and all those things are caught up to date and get the adult register for ESL classes to get that process started,” he continued.

While Gulde said Catholic Charities are always in need of monetary donations for refugees, they will need other donations in this instance, too.

Gulde said those include, “…donation of goods, children’s clothes, snack foods, small drinks, things that we kind of take for granted what we might send our kids to school with, that these kids will come without.”

He expects the community to welcome incoming refugees.

“Amarillo has always been a welcoming community, open arms to receive immigrants of all kinds, whether it be from South America, Asia, Africa,” said Gulde. “It’s a good strong community, good, strong, well-paying jobs. And so with that thought in mind, Amarillo has been a nice place for refugees to be sent.”

Border Report reported on Friday that Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, N.M. will house Afghan refugees, in addition to bases in Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, and New Jersey. The Department of Defense said it will also provide medical and other support for up to 50,000 refugees coming to the U.S. under the Special Immigrant Visa program.

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