Afghan refugees find a home in the West

A resettlement agency in Twin Falls, Idaho, prepares for newcomers.

 

Director Zeze Rwasama stands for a portrait outside of the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center in Twin Falls, Idaho.

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BACKSTORY:
Under President Donald Trump, the Twin Falls Refugee Center in Twin Falls, Idaho, saw a sizeable decrease in refugee admissions, down from an average of around 300 people to just about 60 a year, according to Zeze Rwasama, director of the center. This resulted in large budget cuts, leading to the closure or suspension of programs in more than 100 resettlement offices, not just in Idaho but across the country (“Refugees in Idaho look for belonging,” November 2019).

FOLLOWUP:
Now, under the Biden administration, more refugees are being accepted, said Rwasama. This year, the center will settle about 250 people. It’s already received one family from Afghanistan and is planning for about 50 more Afghans, as well as arrivals from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Sudan and Iran. “The past three months, we’ve been focusing on building our capacity,” said Rwasama. “Which means hiring more staff and making sure our partners and our stakeholders are aware of the increase.”

Jessica Kutz is an assistant editor for High Country News. We welcome reader letters. Email her at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor. See our letters to the editor policy.

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