Monroe County partnering with service providers ahead of Afghan refugees’ arrival
ROCHESTER, N.Y (WHEC) — Afghan interpreters and their families are resettling in Monroe County. There are 50 refugees already here and 200 more are expected by the end of 2021. One of the many tasks ahead is finding them jobs.
County leaders said the expectation in the community is to provide the interpreters with more than entry-level jobs. Perhaps even providing services that are typically reserved for U.S. military vets.
"These Afghan SIVs [Special Immigrant Visas], to me, are brothers and sisters and the rest of our veteran population feels the same in Monroe County," said Monroe County Veteran Service Agency Director Nick Stefanovic.
Since mid-August, the United States military has evacuated nearly 120,000 people from Afghanistan, many of them, U.S. allies who risked their lives interpreting for soldiers on the battlefield.
"The entire 150 people we resettled in Rochester are hurting every single one of them has families trapped in cities and trapped in Kabul and they can’t get out,” said Keeping Our Promise Executive Director Ellen Smith said.
Keeping Our Promise is an organization that provides comprehensive resettlement assistance to endangered wartime allies who served U.S. interests in conflict and war zones.
Other organizations, like Monroe County Veterans Services, The Dwyer Program, The Catholic Family Center and more are pulling resources to help.
“We will help with access to mental health programs, employment resources and connecting them with a law office,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello.
Ali Moradi, one interpreter said "thank you" more times than we could count.
"Especially thanks for miss Ellen Smith who really helped our Afghan SIVs here,” Moradi said.
He said he fears for any interpreter having to go back to Afghanistan because of the Taliban.
"When they appear with us if anyone thinks that the Taliban hated us, multiply that times ten when it comes to them,” Stefanovic added.
Community organizations say they’re offering temporary services like housing and food stamps, however, they’re still working on getting the families of the interpreters we saw today onto U.S. soil.