Sponsoring Afghan Refugees to the U.S. after Kabul Airport Bombing

Afghan+families+were+evacuated+and+relocated+after+the+Kabul%2C+Afghanistan+airport+bombing.+

Samuel Ruiz

Afghan families were evacuated and relocated after the Kabul, Afghanistan airport bombing.

Kailyn Holty, Staff Writer

Close to 31,000 Afghan refugees relocated to the U.S. and a predicted 50,000 more are coming to the United States next month after the Kabul airport bombing and Taliban’s subsequent control of Kabul. Many Afghan families are looking to the process of sponsoring for safe refuge into the U.S. 

Sponsoring is the process of U.S. citizens showing the government that immigrants have financial support from someone in the U.S. This process has helped many immigrants facing humanitarian needs reach sanctuary. 

Niloufar Khonsari, an immigration attorney and co-director for Pangea Legal Services, which specializes in deportation defense in the Bay Area, said that when the terrorist attack first occurred, only about 100-300 Afghan clients reached out to the organization in the first week. Currently, the organization is serving about 4,000 Afghans, a much greater amount than earlier this month. This increase in clients has convinced many that continued Afghanistan support could improve immigration.

“I think if we were helping [Afghanistan in the past], we should still be helping [Afghanistan now],” said Madeline Lee, a Woodside freshman. 

Others believe that the U.S. leaving Afghanistan was the right decision, and won’t affect the influx of Afghan refugees arriving in the U.S.   

“I think that it’s about time we leave Afghanistan, our presence there has not been helping any situation,” Isabella Terranova, a Woodside freshman said. “I don’t know if it would affect the immigration. I feel we’re gonna get more immigrants now with the U.S. out, because now they won’t see the United States as a threat or some kind of war zone country.”

Although Pangea has seen an increase in clients, the organization is struggling to find people to guide volunteers in the sponsorship process. According to Khonsari, when sponsoring, Afghan families are matched with volunteers who aid the family in settling in the U.S. While Pangea Legal Services has had a surplus of volunteers, many of them need more guidance working through the sponsorship process, which sadly, Pangea does not have the resources to provide at the moment. For now, volunteers must rely on the instructional videos and pamphlets provided by the organization. Fortunately for Pangea, Woodside High School students are open to the process. 

“I would definitely be welcoming, I’m learning Arabic on the side,” Terranova said. 

Pangea Legal Services has also faced increased difficulty from the U.S. government in regards to funding and acceptance for the work that they do in immigration. Khonsari said the best way to combat this issue is for people, especially students, to reach out to local representatives, senators, and Congressmen, by sending letters urging them for support. Students can also hold rallies, petitions, contact local media stations to raise awareness about sponsoring families in need. All of these actions can help organizations like Pangea gain more government support. 

While there are multiple opportunities for individuals to get involved, many people have shown apathy towards the situation. At Woodside, students have shown a varying understanding of the Afghanistan crisis and immigration process. 

“I know that the Taliban is taking over Afghanistan and people were fleeing the country, but I don’t know that much about the bombing itself,” Camilla Jerng, a Woodside freshman said. 

Despite some apathy towards the situation, students can support the cause by donating to the organization and even participating as volunteers by becoming sponsors. 

At Pangea, donations are very much appreciated since all Afghans coming to the U.S. as a part of the sponsorship process must pay a $570 fee, Khonsari said. Any donation helps subsidize this cost. If students want to help out but can’t afford to donate money, they can become a part of the sponsorship process. By filling out Form I-134 and other necessary parts of the process, students can directly play a large role in saving Afghans from humanitarian crises. 

Sponsoring provides the opportunity for many Afghans and immigrants to find safety, whether the U.S. is involved with Afghanistan’s affairs or not. For now, students are hopeful and prepared for a better future. 

“I think that we don’t really know what the future holds. So, we need to be prepared as citizens in order to make America more of a hospitable country,” Terranova said.