At Least 1,000 Afghan Refugees Will Resettle In Colorado This Year

APTOPIX Afghan Refugees
David Goldman/AP Photo
A man walks with a child through Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Village where Afghan refugees are being housed, in New Mexico, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. The Biden administration provided the first public look inside the U.S. military base where Afghans airlifted out of Afghanistan are screened, amid questions about how the government is caring for the refugees and vetting them.

Between 1,000 to 2,000 Afghans are expected to resettle in Denver and Colorado Springs by the end of the year, according to the state. 

“We have had a few evacuees arrive, and the resettlement agencies have been alerted to expect an increase in arrivals from mid-October through the end of the year,” said Noyes Parker Combs, Colorado Refugee Services program coordinator.

Most Afghan nationals will enter the country on “humanitarian parole,” which means they will be eligible to apply for asylum, but won’t qualify for most government-funded services. The newly established Colorado Afghan Evacuee Support Fund — started by the state and the Rose Community Foundation — hopes to help fill the gap. 

“We invite Colorado companies, foundations and individual donors to join us in supporting the organizations that will be providing critical services to families and individuals being relocated to Colorado from Afghanistan,” said Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, Rose Community Foundation president and CEO. “Contributions to this fund will help create a welcoming resettlement for newcomers to our community.”

The fund will go to organizations in Colorado that provide refugee resettlement services, health and mental health services, legal services to help evacuees obtain permanent residency in the U.S., and other forms of needed assistance, according to the state. 

A new state law meant to help undocumented immigrants receive services may also benefit the evacuees. 

“Some of the laws that our legislature passed last session, including dropping lawful presence from a requirement for housing assistance, will be another place we'll be able to lean in and help people along their paths,” said Kit Taintor, senior advisor for Colorado’s Office of New American Integration, which was created this year to better coordinate assistance for immigrants, refugees and other newcomers in the state.

Around 90 percent of Afghans headed to Colorado will be settled in metro Denver where there is already a large Afghan population. Others will go to Colorado Springs. Since 1980, more than 60,000 refugees have resettled in Colorado.