Cuban Arrivals: Record High
In recent months, the number of Cubans arriving in Louisville and registering for services at KRM has continued to grow. In February, KRM reached a new monthly record: a total of 198 Cubans entered our doors to register for support. These families are arriving in Kentucky looking for peace, safety, and a new life. To start, many Cubans are entering KRM’s English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Currently, over 600 Louisville-area students– many of them Cuban–are attending virtual ESL classes as they adjust to their new home and look for employment.
National offices shared updated figures on the resettlement program. From the start of the fiscal year, October 1, 2021, to February 15, 2022, the United States resettled a total of 5,322 refugees. A reminder: the refugee admissions goal was set to an aspirational figure of 125,000 people for the current fiscal/program year. We are almost halfway through the program year. National offices state that we can expect to see an increase in the number of refugees arriving each month now through September 2022.
At the local level, KRM has welcomed 108 refugees in Louisville, 77 refugees in Lexington,and four refugees in Northern Kentucky this program year, from October 1 through mid-February.
If you want to learn more about how the resettlement program has changed under the Biden administration, you can read a new report from Refugee Council USA. This report breaks down categories where the Biden administration had committed to change in immigration and refugee programs.
Afghan Evacuation and Resettlement
Nationwide, over 66,500 Afghans have been resettled between September and mid-February. According to KRM’s national office, CWS, this amounts to “resettling more people in six months than we have in two years combined.” As of February 22, KRM’s three offices have welcomed the following number of Afghan humanitarian parolees: 292 people in Louisville, 119 people in Lexington, and 39 people in Covington. This welcome was made possible due to dedicated KRM staff members and community volunteers. For instance, the photo above features volunteers from The Temple in Louisville as they welcome a family from Afghanistan at the airport.
The United States will participate in another phase of Afghan resettlement to admit another 3,500 to 5,000 Afghans, nationwide, beginning in late March.
According to the United Nations, over 2 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion. Ukrainians are fleeing to neighboring countries, including Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia, Romania, Russia, and Belarus. This BBC story details how people are fleeing and what aid they are receiving.
Many community members have contacted KRM to ask if we are welcoming Ukrainian refugees. At this time, KRM and our national partners do not know when or if any Ukrainian refugees would be arriving in the U.S. or Kentucky. People fleeing Ukraine would have to go through a refugee application in order to travel to Kentucky through the United States resettlement program. If Ukrainian refugees were to be resettled in the United States, KRM and other organizations working as part of the U.S. refugee program would willingly welcome them, as we do all refugees admitted to the U.S. in need of protection and an opportunity to rebuild their lives.
In recent years, the KRM Lexington office has resettled Ukrainian refugees through a family reunification program called the Lautenberg program that dates back to the Soviet era. This program is for people who are persecuted for religious reasons. Since Russia’s attacks, some families who were scheduled to fly to the US through this program – unrelated to the Russian invasion – had their flights canceled. At this time, KRM does not know when families through this program will be resettled in the Lexington area, but we are working with their family members in the U.S. to help however we can.
Advocate Now: Afghan Adjustment Act
When Afghans were evacuated to the United States, they received a temporary humanitarian parole for one or two years. Immigration and asylum advocates have been asking Congress to pass an Afghan Adjustment Act in order to allow Afghans to apply for lawful permanent residency after one year in the country.
You can join us in these advocacy efforts by contacting your Members of Congress today: Click here to urge your 2 Senators and 1 Representative to support an Afghan Adjustment Act. Thank you to KRM’s national office CWS for their leadership in this effort.