Minnesota is ready to welcome Afghan refugee families displaced by the recent upheaval, the governor's office told the White House this week.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan sent a letter to President Joe Biden Thursday, the office announced, saying Minnesota "is eager to uphold that tradition by welcoming families and children and providing the stable foundation they need to rebuild their lives, achieve their highest potential, and contribute to our state."
The United States' recent withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent rapid takeover by the Taliban has worsened an already troubling refugee crisis. CNN said more than half a million Afghans had already left their homes since the start of the year due to fighting.
The situation has become even more urgent in the past week, with the Taliban taking control of the capital city of Kabul and forcing Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee. Troubling images have emerged from the Kabul airport, including cargo planes packed with desperate Afghans, armed Taliban patrols monitoring the perimeter and even video of people falling to their death after clinging to the outside of a departing plane.
Like people across the globe, Minnesotans have watched the events unfolding in Afghanistan with grief and sadness," Walz and Flanagan write in their letter to the White House. "Minnesotans believe in treating all people with respect and dignity, and we have a strong tradition of welcoming those who seek refuge and supporting them to rebuild their lives and become part of our communities."
From 2003-15, approximately 36,973 refugees — that's about 2,844 a year — resettled in Minnesota, according to the International Institute of Minnesota. They make up a small portion of the estimated 472,000 immigrants who live in Minnesota.
"New Minnesotans strengthen our communities and contribute to the social fabric of our state," said Walz and Flanagan. "They are our neighbors."