Written by CMC’s Director of Refugee & Immigrant Services, Sara Zejnic
As the resettlement agency serving Eastern Iowa, the Catherine McAuley Center (CMC) stands ready to welcome and support Afghan refugees and Special Immigrant Visa-holders (SIVs) as they settle into our local communities and work to establish the safety and stability that every person deserves.
To date, the majority of refugees that CMC has resettled have come from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burma, but CMC will support any refugee or SIV referred to our office by our partners at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).
Our local communities are strengthened when we are welcoming and supportive of people from different backgrounds. CMC is fully committed to assisting any and all Afghans when they arrive, and we are waiting for the opportunity to do so.
Refugee vs. Special Immigrant Visa holder (SIV)
It is important to remember that there are several different immigration statuses at play, and that the resettlement process has evolved over the 40 years of the U.S.’s formal Refugee Resettlement program, with a goal of helping refugees become self-sufficient, and includes an extensive vetting process that is trusted to protect Americans.
- Special Immigrant Visa holders (SIVs) are people who have contracted with the U.S. government, often as interpreters or security forces. They have already undergone extensive security screenings prior to working with the U.S. military. These are the cases that are currently being expedited and processed at U.S. military bases.
- Refugees are people who fled their home country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for their race, sex, ethnic group, or membership in another social group. Refugees undergo a great deal of screening overseas prior to entering the United States including interviews, background checks, and health screenings. This process usually lasts at least 18 months.
We know that the refugee processing professionals are working around the clock to be certain that the security protocols are followed as they quickly process cases.
If you have questions, need support, or resources for yourself or others, please visit USCRI’s webpage for the most up-to-date resources to support those seeking safety and stability.
How to help:
If you want to help CMC and our resettlement partners across the country, there are many ways you can get involved:
- Advocate – call on the administration to do everything in its power to facilitate evacuations for every single American-affiliated Afghan.
- Donate – USCRI is collecting an Afghanistan Assistance Fund to provide urgently-needed assistance to Afghan refugees and their families as they rebuild their lives in the United States.
- Volunteer – Fill out our survey to share how you’d like to help welcome and support refugees arriving in our community.
- Amplify – share this post!
Check out the latest news coverage at the links below for more information on CMC’s commitment to supporting Afghans.
Even red states like Iowa are lining up to accept Afghan refugees – August 20, 2021
Cedar Rapids nonprofit ready to accept Afghan refugees amid chaos – August 17, 2021
Iowa exploring accepting more refugees from Afghanistan – August 17, 2021