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Hurdles remain for Afghan refugees in Utah despite finding permanent housing

Posted at 11:24 AM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 18:07:02-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Resettlement agencies in Utah say they have found permanent housing for the more than 900 Afghan refugees who arrived in the state over the last six months.

It was a huge undertaking for resettlement groups here in Utah as housing was one of the biggest challenges faced when refugees arrived.

This announcement was part of Wednesday's briefing in front of the Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee at the Utah State Capitol.

Both the Department of Workforce Services and Catholic Community Services of Utah say now that housing has been taken care of, their focus is turns to finding refugees meaningful employment with substantial salaries.

"They are not coming with a permanent immigration status. They're coming with a parole status, which is a very temporary immigration status. And also for them to get a job immediately upon arrival, they have to get a work permit. And the work permit takes at least four months," explained Aden Batar, the Director of Immigration and Refugee Services with Catholic Community Services.

Batar added that Afghan refugees also need mental health services because of the traumatic events they witnessed while in their war-torn countries. 

It's expected that refugee families will typically become self-sufficient within one to two years of arriving in Utah.

Organizations are asking for volunteers from the community to help do the work they need as quickly as possible.