Washington state became the new home of more than 5,000 Afghan refugees who fled the Taliban’s rule in their country.
Ellen Abellera, a Fil-Am community leader in the Pacific Northwest, expressed her organization's support for the refugees. She also encourages everyone in Washington state to welcome Afghans to their homes or to help local organizations on the refugees' transition.
"We will join hands with the state as well as in welcoming them. What is important right now is to help them settle in and in terms of affordable housing," Abellera said.
Fil-Ams in Washington state say they too can relate to the Afghan migration because they also came to the U.S. with nothing but hope and hard work to reach their American dream. Maricres Valdez Castro shares she feels "a lot of pain and a lot of remorse" for the refugees.
"I can see my own family. My family immigrated from the Philippines. Where would they stay? Where would they go? It's that same compassion, selflessness of seeing our families in them, that we are a nation of immigrants" Castro said. "If they are not vaccinated [against Covid-19], then we can offer them vaccines. That's who we are as America."
Washington resident Rey Peel also stressed why the U.S. must be immigrant-friendly. "We are immigrants ourselves right? We made a life here for us. We got choices. We got freedom. So definitely we have to be welcoming and [provide a] friendly environment for them," Peel argued.
Most of the Afghan refugees have resettled in King County, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane counties, with each of them receiving a one-time cash payment of $1,200 to start off their first 90 days of resettlement in the U.S. But there are concerns over affordable housing solutions due to the growing homeless population in Seattle.
"There are so many agencies that are helping [the homeless]... But we cannot also avoid the new immigrants to come in because remember, the census that just came out two weeks ago, there is an inevitable search for diversity here in Washington," Abellera pointed out.