Wisconsin welcomes nearly 400 Afghan refugees


LA CROSSE, EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX)- Thousands of Afghan refugees are making the transition from their home country to the United States, including in Wisconsin.

First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff explores the struggles they face as they integrate across the nation. 

As Afghan refugees wait for their resettlement in the United States, many challenges lie ahead as they begin their new lives.

The US resettled more than 11,000 refugees last year, but the department of homeland security says more than 55,000 afghan refugees have been brought to US bases.

Resettlement agencies help place refugees around the country, but only for a limited time.

“Those services are only provided for 90 days, so there are a lot of other agencies that support refugees post-resettlement and general social services and supporting, because 90 days is very hard to get your feet fully on the ground in a brand new country, not speaking the language.”

Agencies can help find housing, enroll children in school, or help with medical appointments.

Genevieve Levy has overseen resettlement in California, and says there are common challenges refugees face no matter where they’re placed.

“Often, you might not be able to rent an apartment, for example, if the landlord requires income verification or rental history back five years, you won’t have any of that, occupancy guidelines are also very difficult, you might have a big family of seven or eight, but they could only afford a three- or two-bedroom apartment.”

Language barriers can also make the resettlement process more difficult, along with the culture shock of being in a new country.

That is why Levy says it’s important for U.S citizens to be welcoming, a sentiment echoed by Nemat Sadat.

Sadat is a former Afghan translator for the U.S military, who is grateful to people across the nation for helping his countrymen.

“When we see all these immigrations coming, a lot of immigrations coming to the United States, and I see the support from other states, that gives me hope, and I always communicate that to my home country people, letting them know that yes, trust me, there are still people that they care about you.”

Wisconsin is expected to resettle nearly 400 refugees, and the cities of La Crosse and Eau Claire have passed resolutions welcoming them to the community.

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine. 

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