HELP AFGHAN REFUGEES
RESETTLE IN OUR COMMUNITY
The recent situation in Afghanistan has created an urgent need for Catholic Charities Jacksonville to provide aid to those actively fleeing from the Taliban. There are tens of thousands of Afghans who have been displaced due to the danger posed by the shift in power in the country – and they’ve left everything behind to do so.
Our refugee services team is preparing to ensure each Afghan refugee family has a safe place to live, furniture, food and living staples waiting for them when they arrive in our community. We are expecting these refugees to start arriving in the coming weeks through a new Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) – an initiative that will be open from Sept. 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022, to ensure the safety of our friends and allies in Afghanistan.
We are expecting to resettle 200 Afghan parolees in our community during this period. It’s important to note that our agency is also continuing to resettle refugees and SIVs through 2021 as well as an additional 150 refugees in 2022. See below to learn more about the differences in these designations.
Catholic Charities is working in partnership with the federal government and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), but we need the community's help for these individuals and families who have survived unimaginable trauma. Please join us in prayer for these refugees and those helping to serve them. View Pope Francis's prayer for refugees here.
How You Can Help
With help from the Chartrand Family Fund, our generous donors raised $153,000 through the Refugee Match Challenge this year. These funds are critical as we work to ensure every Afghan refugee family has a safe place to live, furniture, food, and other basic staples waiting for them when they arrive in Jacksonville.
Thank you for helping us show our new Afghan neighbors that they are not only safe – they are welcomed. We humbly ask for your continued support of our refugee ministry as we anticipate resettling another 100 Afghan refugees by this spring.
HOW THE AFGHAN PLACEMENT AND ASSISTANCE (APA) WORKS
At Catholic Charities Jacksonville, we’ve resettled refugees in our community for almost 40 years. In fact, we have resettled an estimated 119 Afghan refugees – including those with special immigrant visas (SIVs) – here in Jacksonville since 2017.
But the refugees who are evacuating Afghanistan immediately are not coming over to the U.S. through the traditional refugee process or as SIVs. These individuals and families are coming over as parolees.
The Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) is designed to provide those fleeing Afghanistan with up to 90 days of resettlement support services. The program will be open from Sept. 1, 2021, through March 31, 2021, and provide services are similar to those traditionally offered through refugee resettlement and placement.
Safe and appropriate housing
Adequate food supplies
Access to health services
Enrollment in school
THE DIFFERENCE BETEWEEN A REFUGEE, SIV & PAROLEE
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her home because of war, violence, or persecution, often without warning. They cannot return home unless the native environment becomes safe for them again. Refugees also do not get to choose where they are resettled across the world.
Those resettled through special immigrant visas, or SIVs, worked with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator or interpreter in Iraq or Afghanistan. Applicants must also have experienced or be experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of their employment. They are seeking refuge in the United States specifically. (State.gov)
Individuals who are outside of the United States may request parole into the United States based on urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons for a temporary period, on a case-by-case basis. While parole allows for lawful presence in the United States, the parolee technically remains an applicant for admission. Parole does not confer immigration status and does not provide a path to permanent residency or the ability to obtain lawful immigration status. However, a parolee may be able to obtain lawful status in the United States through other means. (USCIS.gov)
There is a different process for refugees, SIVs and parolees, but all are stringent and require in-depth applications, background checks, and interviews. It is important to note that SIVs and parolees are both considered refugees.
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me."
A MESSAGE FROM LORI WEBER, OUR REGIONAL DIRECTOR
The Catholic Charities team is working diligently to ensure we’re ready to resettle as many refugees as possible, as quickly as possible – a mission that we will need your prayers and support to accomplish. Rest assured that Catholic Charities will be there to welcome these men, women and children with open arms and provide them with the tools they need to restart their lives and become self-sustainable, fulfilled members of our community.
Please join us in prayer as we call to mind all who are affected by this development – families fleeing Afghanistan, those aiding in humanitarian efforts and the allied troops ensuring their safety, as well as all those who have risked or sacrificed their lives for our country amid this conflict."
"It’s difficult to imagine what many Afghan families are experiencing right now as they flee their homes in search of safety. At Catholic Charities Jacksonville, we have humbly worked to help resettle dozens of Afghan refugee families - including many individuals who arrived with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), earned through their service as interpreters and translators for our troops.
They have escaped extremely dangerous situations, which is only further demonstrated through the desperation evident in the videos and photos we’re seeing coming out of the country. This unfortunate situation will result in our agency welcoming an increased number of displaced people from Afghanistan to our community.