Two Afghans arrive in East Tennessee, experts say more are on the way

Experts say refugee resettlement can be a lengthy process.
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 11:13 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Bridge Refugee Services tells WVLT that on August 12th, two Afghan people were relocated to East Tennessee, and they expect more to come in the near future. This comes after President Biden announced on Tuesday that more than 70,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since August 14th.

Although tens of thousands have already left Afghanistan, experts at Vanderbilt University say the process of bringing those people to the United States or other countries can be a lengthy one.

First, to be considered a refugee you must prove you are under persecution, in war, or in the midst of a natural disaster. After getting on a plane and coming to the United States, there are refugee camps that many will stay at as they await a clean security check. After that, they’ll find out where they are going.

In Tennessee, the state gets a list of who they are taking in and reach out to agencies like Bridge who help orchestrate a city, home, job and more for them.

Immigration law expert Karla McKanders says, “In some circumstances that can take up to... you know for Iraqi refugees back in the 90′s... up to 10 years” when it comes to timelines for when this process can be complete. Although citing situations over two decades ago, she said the process could be much quicker now depending on the level of urgency from the federal government.

According to data from the Tennessee Office for Refugees, in 2020 the volunteer state took in 225 refugees, with 43 of them being from Afghanistan.

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