Following the takeover of Afghanistan by Islamic terrorists, hundreds of thousands Afghans are fleeing Taliban rule and California is one of the top destinations for these refugees.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that close to 550,000 Afghans have been displaced from their homes since January 2021. Before the fall of Afghanistan, California, and especially the Bay Area, is where some 66,000 people who have Afghan ancestors are living, according to 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
And California has the second highest share of people identifying as Afghan, according to the same data. Virginia has the highest share, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Chronicle reported that the city of Fremont’s Centerville district has been unofficially renamed “Little Kabul” after the Afghan city where a terrorist attack on Thursday left 13 U.S. service members dead and many more Afghans:
The growth of the diaspora in California is the result of several different waves of conflict-driven migration, including the wave caused by the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, said Farhad Yousafzai, who runs the community group Afghans Living in San Francisco Bay Area. Word traveled to people fleeing that there were established communities in that region. “That’s where people wanted to go — nearby to their own people,” he said.
Though exactly how many people will go where is still being assessed, recent trends show that California is a top destination for people coming from Afghanistan. Out of all U.S. states, California had the highest number of refugees from Afghanistan arrive between October 2020 and July 2021, which is the latest data available from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
But refugees, whose statuses are determined by the United Nations, are just a small portion of the people who are evacuating Afghanistan and coming to the U.S. Many more people have come, and continue to come, through a process called the Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV, which gives Afghans who worked for the U.S. government a pathway to migration to the U.S. The U.S. Congress has authorized 8,000 additional visas to this program in light of the current crisis in Afghanistan.
The Chronicle reported that Afghan communities in California are trying to help with the influx of new refugees, including the Fremont Family Resource Center, a non-profit agency run by the city. The center has in recent days raised almost $100,000 to help refugees with housing and other expenses.
“At the end of the day, we’re pushing politics aside and really focusing on the people,” Geneva Bosques, Fremont’s director of communications and legislative affairs, said in the Chronicle report. “If people are coming to our community, we’re going to be welcoming. Fremont is a compassionate community.”
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.