Approximately 76,000 Afghans have currently been evacuated to the United States through Operation Allies Welcome, a federal program to coordinate efforts to support vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked alongside the U.S. government in Afghanistan for the past two decades, as they safely resettle in the United States. Minnesota welcomed 1,363 evacuees between September 2021 and September 2022.
Arrival and resettlement process
People who arrived to the United States through this federal operation:
Were evacuated to a neighboring country where they completed security vetting prior to travel to the United States.
Were transported to military bases in the United States upon arrival where they completed additional health screening, vaccination, and other processing before being sent to a final destination for resettlement.
Were assigned a final destination based on the following criteria:
First priority was reunification with family members already in the United States.
Placement in a community with capacity to provide initial supports to families.
Received initial federally funded reception and placement services for their first 90 days in the United States.
Are legally present in the United States and authorized to work.
In a letter to President Joe Biden on Aug. 19, 2021, Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan said that Minnesota stands ready to resettle Afghans. “Like people across the globe, Minnesotans have watched the events unfolding in Afghanistan with grief and sadness. 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. 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.”
“Operation Allies Welcome” is a federal response that is being run through the Federal Department of Homeland Security. Visit Operation Allies Welcome for useful information about this mission, including a helpful FAQ sheet.
When the evacuation began, the federally funded Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Resettlement Programs Office led a task force to support a coordinated response of existing resources, both private and public, to integrate newcomers as quickly as possible in Minnesota. The leadership team coordinated the planning between state agencies, nonprofits and community grassroots efforts to implement a coordinated response, titled Operation Allies Welcome in Minnesota.
While evacuation to the United Sates has ended, resettlement of Afghans will continue in communities across the nation with additional Afghans arriving through the United States Refugee Reception and Placement program. Newcomers will be supported through a model of public-private partnership where federal dollars are augmented with private resources such as volunteers, material donations, and donations, to provide for initial needs and connection to local supports to help people rebuild their lives and contribute to our communities. Much of the local capacity is contingent on the mobilization of private resources to meet immediate needs while people transition to stability and self-sufficiency.
There are no state funds earmarked for the resettlement of Afghans in Minnesota. Once in Minnesota, people may be able to access some public assistance programs, like other Minnesota residents, if they meet eligibility criteria established through state and federal statute.
Between September 2021 and September 2022, Minnesota welcomed 1,363 Afghan evacuees.
September 30, 2022 marks the end of the emergency evacuation response. Afghan nationals who arrive to Minnesota starting October 1, 2022 will go through the traditional admissions route of attaining refugee status prior to arrival to the United States.
Welcoming Afghan families has been a combined community effort to help them restore wellbeing after experiencing significant hardships. Initial federally funded Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) services were provided by entities for Afghan families first 90 days in the United States.
Dozens of community partners opened their arms to coordinate initial and ongoing support services. Volunteers and donations helped Afghan evacuees as soon as they arrived in Minnesota. Organizations such as the Salvation Army and American Red Cross supplied and trained volunteers to welcome and provide assistance to those in transitional housing. Local churches, mosques and synagogues purchased and collected basic needs items, as well as space for sorting and storing donations.
The success of welcoming evacuees has been made possible through the generosity and partnership of many nonprofit organizations, businesses and community groups who have stepped up to support our newest Minnesota arrivals.
Before traveling to the United States, all evacuees and refugees are thoroughly vetted through a coordinated process overseen by the U.S. Department of State. This includes coordination with interagency security and intelligence agencies including the FBI, the Department of Defense, and the National Counter Terrorism Center and others. The federal government has expressed to state leaders their commitment to ensure national security while also providing safety and security to evacuees who have contributed to the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
Afghan evacuees were tested for COVID-19 when they entered the United States. Initial health screenings and vaccinations were provided at the military bases hosting individuals and families before they travel to their final destination. Additional health screenings and vaccine follow up occur, as needed, upon arrival to Minnesota.