Gov. Cox reaffirms Utah’s commitment to Afghan refugees

Aug 25, 2021, 7:24 PM | Updated: Aug 26, 2021, 11:57 am

SALT LAKE CITY — With a humanitarian crisis unraveling in Afghanistan, many Utahns are stepping up to help. Today Gov. Spencer Cox reaffirmed his commitment to resettle refugees.

The governor said his office has been busy with calls from people wanting to help, It’s why Cox said the decision to offer Utah as a safe haven was simple.

With increasing chaos around the airport in Kabul and violence at the hands of the Taliban, including images of a man alleging he was beaten by the Taliban as he tried to enter the airport, Cox reaffirmed his commitment to welcome and resettle Afghan refugees in Utah.

“It was a really easy decision as we were watching what was happening a world away in Afghanistan. Like most Americans we were very troubled by what we were seeing and hearing and reading about the people who had sacrificed so much for our soldiers,” Cox said. “Republicans, Democrats and independents in the state — everyone in the state that I’ve talked to — has thanked us. Legislators, mayors, county commissioners … citizens have all said we believe in this.”

Many of the 88,000 evacuees are flying to military bases in Qatar, Germany and Bahrain and will eventually be redirected to bases in Virginia, Texas and Wisconsin.

“The White House has reached out and said that they want to have a conversation with governors later this week and so we’re hopeful we’ll get more details then,” Cox said of the response to his letter to President Biden accepting Afghan refugees in Utah.

Being one of the first states to publicly open its doors to refugees, Cox said he’s heard from other governors also expressing interest in accepting refugees.

“I believe most states will be welcoming, this has become a rare bipartisan issue,” Cox said, “I suspect we will get much closer to 50 (states) by the time the dust settles.”

Cox added he disagrees with the White House’s strategy in leaving Afghanistan.

“I’m very disappointed in the way it has been handled,”  Cox said, “When the good guys don’t stand up, the bad guys are ready to step in.”

But he said he’s proud of Utah’s heritage and willingness to embrace those in need.

“We can’t change what’s happening over there but we can do the right thing … and try to fix it and make it better,” Cox said.

Cox’s office is working with Utah’s resettlement agencies, like the International Rescue Committee and Catholic Community Services.

Catholic Community Services said it already has two cases they’re preparing for, including a family of eight. However, they don’t have an official date of arrival yet.

Catholic Community Services said it have received plenty of volunteer applications and donations. However, the group is in need of monetary donations.

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Gov. Cox reaffirms Utah’s commitment to Afghan refugees