Cox calls for long-term housing as Utah enters 2nd phase to help Afghan refugees

Gov. Spencer J. Cox, left, greets Kamila Emami, proper, Khatima Emami and Saida Emami on the Capitol in Salt Lake Metropolis on Wednesday. He introduced that the state is shifting into the second part of serving to greater than 900 Afghan refugees in Utah with training, coaching and employment. (Laura Seitz, Deseret Information)

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SALT LAKE CITY — With many of the greater than 900 Afghan refugees anticipated to resettle in Utah having now arrived, Gov. Spencer Cox introduced Wednesday that efforts are shifting towards the second part of training, coaching and employment.

State leaders, Utah resettlement businesses and the Refugee Companies Workplace have partnered as efforts are shifting to combine Afghans and their households into the workforce and group. The second part contains homework assist, mentorship packages by means of the Utah Refugee Middle, English-language training and know-how programs.

“We’re serving to households guarantee they’ve what they want for his or her youngsters to achieve success in our colleges and communities,” Cox mentioned. “We acknowledge the unbelievable skills, talents and life experiences these Afghans deliver to our workforce. They will be great additions and can be submitting much-needed job vacancies. With the bottom unemployment within the nation, we desperately want them.”

Cox pointed to newly arrived, Afghanistan native Ahmad Naweed Shirzad as certainly one of many with talent units that may come to learn Utah.

Shirzad spoke of his expertise within the resettlement course of and shared his hopes for the long run. Shirzad, an leisure producer, mentioned he was making a documentary in provinces close to Kabul when the Taliban started to take over. He and his crew fled towards Kabul and have been attacked by members of the Taliban.

After he boarded a U.S. navy airplane leaving Kabul, Shirzad frolicked in Fort Knox with different refugees earlier than settling in Utah.

“I wish to thank the federal government of america of America and the state of Utah, particularly. I felt very protected right here and I discovered Utah an emblem of humanity, democracy and freedom by all means,” Shirzad mentioned.

Many industries throughout the state have been battling employee shortages. Current COVID-19 surges throughout communities have led to elevated vacancies which were tough to fill amid Utah’s low unemployment price and shortages. With the correct coaching and assist, Afghan refugees can fill the gaps, Cox mentioned.

“We’re reaching out to the non-public sector, as effectively. We all know the place now we have shortages, we all know the place now we have job openings. It is making an attempt to match the job abilities that they’ve with the job alternatives that they need and the way we bridge that hole with coaching,” the governor mentioned. “There are limitless alternatives proper now. Each single business in Utah has shortages, so we’ll discover a approach to match these.”

A part of the coaching can be supplemented with funds from the Utah Afghan Group Fund, Cox added. The fund raised roughly $1 million and has already helped buy laptops, cellphones and authorized assist.

Recently arrived Afghans accept applause and a standing ovation from members of the House of Representatives during the kickoff for Afghan Day on the Hill at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
Not too long ago arrived Afghans settle for applause and a standing ovation from members of the Home of Representatives in the course of the kickoff for Afghan Day on the Hill on the Capitol in Salt Lake Metropolis on Wednesday. (Picture: Laura Seitz, Deseret Information)

The $1 million donated to the Utah Afghan Group is only one a part of the group’s response to the emergency evacuation and resettlement of Afghan refugees. State legislators have launched a number of payments meant to assist Afghans in the course of the resettlement course of.

These payments embrace:

  • HB130, which permits the Driver License Division to start administering sure exams in languages aside from English and permit a translator for sure driver’s license examinations.
  • HB163, which provides humanitarian parolees to an inventory of teams allowed to make use of an interpreter or offers an choice for translation when acquiring a driver’s license.
  • HB230, which amends guidelines and necessities concerning enrollment for immigrant or refugee college students. Amongst these amendments are exceptions for college kids who’re unable to provide a start certificates or a certificates that doesn’t precisely mirror the coed’s age, conditional enrollment on a scholar’s full immunization file, and former transcripts.

“Our hope for our Afghan mates is similar for all Utahns: to construct a cheerful and profitable life, and for them to develop into energetic and engaged members of their group. We’re grateful for the Legislature’s willingness to tackle points impacting not solely Afghan arrivals but additionally refugees coming to the state,” Cox mentioned.

Cox famous that the payments, if handed, will assist develop choices for employment and meet normal transportation wants for Afghan arrivals.

Whereas the preliminary part is full and plenty of challenges have been met in resettlement, housing continues to be a difficulty. The battle to safe long-term housing has been a persistent downside for a lot of, not solely within the state however throughout the nation, Cox mentioned.

“The housing piece was in all probability the piece that involved me probably the most, and continues to be regarding simply because now we have a housing scarcity anyway — not simply in our state however throughout america. So ensuring we will discover everlasting housing for these refugees stays a really excessive precedence. We’re nonetheless some brief and that is the place we will use some assist,” Cox mentioned.

To satisfy the wants of the remaining 220 refugees who would not have long-term housing, the governor is popping to Utahns for assist. An extra 50 items have to be situated to satisfy the wants as extra individuals arrive. The preliminary estimate for Afghan arrivals elevated to over 900 because of the variety of individuals arriving in teams and those that made their approach to Utah on their very own.

Madina Emami, 2, watches people in attendance at the kickoff for Afghan Day on the Hill at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
Madina Emami, 2, watches individuals in attendance on the kickoff for Afghan Day on the Hill on the Capitol in Salt Lake Metropolis on Wednesday. (Picture: Laura Seitz, Deseret Information)

“I might be mendacity if I mentioned I did not lose any sleep, as a result of I did lose some sleep over this one,” Cox mentioned of the resettlement course of. “It was a really massive quantity. And I’ve all the religion on the planet in our resettlement businesses, in addition to our groups on the authorities stage that have been working with these resettlement businesses, however even they knew this was an unlimited activity.”

The Cox administration urged anybody with out there housing to ship a message to

Correction: An earlier model of this story misspelled Ahmad Naweed Shirzad’s identify.


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