OC Board of Supervisors unveils 3-step plan for resettlement of Afghan refugees

Thursday, August 26, 2021
OC supervisors unveil 3-step plan for resettlement of Afghan refugees
As the U.S. races to evacuated Americans and vulnerable allies stranded in Afghanistan, the Orange County Board of Supervisors has proposed a multilayered plan to relocate Afghan refugees.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Orange County Board of Supervisors has proposed a plan to relocate Afghan refugees by pushing for an increase in the cap on refugees to include 100,000 more Afghan refugees in 2021, allocate more resources to expedite the process of immigration applications, and establish partnerships with private organizations and non-profits to support resettlement.

The plan requires approval and action from the federal government.

Its chairman, Andrew Do, represents a district that has one of the largest populations of Vietnamese Americans. For many people in Little Saigon, the images out of Kabul, Afghanistan aren't just a glimpse into a humanitarian crisis, they're a reminder of what they've endured.

"It's almost identical, how incredible is that," said Tam Nguyen, whose family fled Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. "That our image in 1975 is almost identical to where we are here in 2021."

Nguyen told us he was one year old when his family found refuge in America, separated upon leaving Vietnam, reuniting in Orange County.

"The images of so many refugees and people on the tarmac and the plane, running. My mom and dad shared with me this week like son, that was us," said Nguyen.

He supports the OC Board of Supervisors' plan, as it awaits federal approval.

Representative Young Kim, who represents the 39th congressional district and sits on the House Committee on Foreign affairs, doesn't have a specific number of refugees in mind. Instead, she stressed the urgency of the moment.

"Do not pull out until we have a plan to get all Americans and allies out safely," said Rep. Kim, urging President Joe Biden to extend the August 31st deadline if necessary.

When asked if everyone evacuated out of Afghanistan could find home in the United States, Rep. Kim suggested uncertainty, saying it's a part of the conversation that will be addressed after all Americans and allies are out.

"That's what we're focused on right now," said Rep. Kim. "Everything else that we're talking about, how are we going to settle them here, how are we going to work on the migration system that could resettle them here, how many we're going to accept in the United States, that will come."

In the meantime, people like Sumbul Saddiqi will be waiting eagerly. She moved to Orange County as a refugee in 2016. Most of her family still lives in Afghanistan.

"I can drive, I can work I can support my family," said Saddiqi. "Things I was not able to do there back home."

Yet despite everything she can do, she feels most moved about the things she can't.

"We cannot do anything for them," said Saddiqi, regarding Afghans trying to flee. "I just keep telling them, I pray for you. I cried with them, and they've lost their faith. They have no faith. They're saying, God won't listen to us anymore."