LAS CRUCES — New Mexico is preparing to welcome 400 refugees who fled Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of U.S. troops in August, and groups are seeking volunteers and donations to help with the effort.

About 100 of those refugees are expected to resettle in Las Cruces, according to officials with Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, the state’s primary nongovernmental refugee resettlement organization. The remainder are expected to relocate to Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Kyra Ochoa, the city of Santa Fe’s community health and safety director, said she and Mayor Alan Webber met with Lutheran Family Services representatives last month.



“We understood that they wanted to relocate 100 Afghan refugees to Santa Fe, so they were basically asking for Santa Fe’s sort of statement of welcome to these folks,” she said.

On Sept. 29, the City Council passed a resolution sponsored by Webber affirming Santa Fe’s support for the resettlement of Afghan refugees and pledging “to continue to work with leaders across all sectors to identify ways to support the integration of these newcomers to the United States.”

The 100 people Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains wants to bring to Santa Fe represent about 20 families, Ochoa said.

“Where they will be housed, we don’t know, but if there is space on [the midtown campus], we’re open to looking at that,” she said. “I am, anyway. I shouldn’t speak for the entire midtown team, but we’re definitely open to looking at that.”

Ochoa said city government can “certainly explore” whether it has any space to host any of the refugees.

“There’s a lot of will in the community to welcome these folks who have been through so much and been such allies to the United States,” she said.

Andrew Byrd, the Southern New Mexico coordinator for Lutheran Family Services, told the Las Cruces Sun-News Afghan refugees are expected to relocate to the Southern New Mexico city by March 2022. He said the numbers for the state and each city are projected capacities submitted by his group to the federal government.

The organization could not be reached for comment on plans to relocate refugees in Santa Fe.

Some Afghan refugees are being sheltered at nearby military installations as they are connected with resettlement organizations.

At Holloman Air Force Base, Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Range Complex and other military installations around the country, officials have said refugees are tested for COVID-19 before arriving. Once on base, they undergo further medical screening and can apply for immigration status and work authorizations before resettlement organizations place them into communities.

The Lutheran Family Services Las Cruces office partnered with the Muslim Student Association at New Mexico State University to help refugees once they arrive. The groups have asked for volunteers who can serve as translators and transport donated goods. They’ve also asked people to donate money; furniture; electronics, such as phones and laptops; and school supplies.

Daniel J. Chacón of The New Mexican contributed to this report.

(34) comments

Linda Scott

I've been in Santa Fe for 35 years and am now on Social Security. I'm barely scraping by on a fixed income of about $20,000 a year. Believe it or not, my income is too high to qualify for just about every benefit. Yes, too HIGH! I'm disabled now and cannot work at all anymore. Social Security hasn't been keeping up with inflation for at least 20 years- probably a lot longer. I'd like to know what the city is going to do to help retired/disabled citizens like me.

Comment deleted.
Charlotte Rowe

Don't worry, Mikey, they wouldn't want to be around you. But they are quite welcome in the community.

Dan Frazier

We should find the 100 richest people in Santa Fe. Each of those people should be responsible for housing 1 refugee and helping them to get adjusted to their new life.

Comment deleted.
Lupe Molina

^Dumbest comment today. Thanks so everyone else for having some semblance of critical thinking.

david cartwright

Welcome to our Afghan refugees. And New Mexican, please keep us informed on how we can assist.

Gerald Montoya

My main concern is that priority was not given to Afghans that supported the US such as interpreters, contract employees, etc. Because of the chaotic situation, many were evacuated based on who could claw themselves on the airplane... As a result, I suspect many of the arriving refugees provided little to no support to America during our occupation. I had three interpreters during my time in Afghanistan. Two of three interpreters managed to immigrate but my one of my former interpreter was left behind and is still there in danger of being killed by the Taliban. The Taliban already murdered his 2 year old daughter during an attack on his house recently.

From my personal observation, the large number of evacuees appears to be greater than the actual number of Afghans that supported the US. The quick collapse of government institutions and military despite 20 years of US blood and treasure shows how little Afghans care about patriotism as they were not even willing to support their own country. Nevertheless, I hope that those arriving on our shores contribute something to American society more so than they contributed to the homeland they abandoned and I hope they are grateful for the opportunity they have been given, while many well deserving countrymen were left behind.

LeRoy Sanchez

👍

Carolyn DM

Maybe these migrants will actually fill and be grateful for some of the open jobs that so many residents of SF refuse to take on. As for the mere 100 of them going to Las Cruces, that's really going to get Yvette Horrid's big ole panties in a twist since the border is all she suddenly seems to care about these days, giving no mind to it when Trumpf was caging the children and babies for years on end, after being ripped from their parent's arms.

larry hulsey

I agree with Andrew. This part of New Mexico is a beatiful place but also a dificult place to make a living. Where are these people going to recieve the skills needed to servive here without dismal failure? Good intetions by the residents here will not be enough. The US does need to help those who helped our service people but not with more poor planning.

Lupe Molina

I'm guessing these Afghanis are pretty motivated, resourceful people after all they have been through. It's not easy being a refugee, but they do typically have a higher rate of professional success than natural born Americans.

LeRoy Sanchez

?

Charlotte Rowe

Larry you seem to think that Afghans are a bunch of uneducated caravan bumpkins. Many of those coming probably have greater education than a lot of locals, superior language skills and among these are engineers, doctors, teachers. I think they'll be fine.

B. Rosen

I agree with Lupe, we should welcome these folks with open arms, after 20 years of war in their country and little to show for it, also, many of them risked their lives to help our soldiers. I do wonder if Santa Fe is the most affordable option they have, there are relatively few jobs here and we have a very high cost of living which is going to make their success in resettling more challenging.

Andrew Lucero

What brain trust came up with this idea? We are in the middle of an affordable housing crisis in Santa Fe. There is a critical shortage of housing to go around to begin with. The local population is already being displaced. Teachers, police officers, city and state employees, workers of every rank and file have to commute into town from Rio Rancho simply because they can't afford to live here or there is no place for them to live even if they could afford it. Then we have a growing homeless population that we can't even take care of. S0 where EXACTLY are they going to place these people? Are the rich transplants in their multi-million dollar homes on the hills going to take them in? I have nothing against these refugees. I fully realize that they have to go somewhere. But the reality is Santa Fe is not the place for them. The cost of living in Santa Fe alone, makes it an unrealistic place for these people to settle and start a new life. Bringing them here will only set them up to fail. We have to be honest with ourselves. We have a local population that we are failing to take care of. We need to be able to take care of our own before we can open our arm and welcome in more people. All the good intentions and warm fuzzy feelings isn't going to change that.

Lupe Molina

In the grand scheme of our national security apparatus though, taking care of these people is probably equivalent to the cost of 8-9am operations in Los Alamos. We're the richest country in the world that contributed to destroying these people's lives for the last two decades. Everything we can do for them is the least we can do, and it really doesn't cost that much. And it's fed money. This doesn't come out of cash strapped city of SF budget.

Joseph Tafoya

Andrew, how about the one that created it in the first place. Joe Biden! If he would have followed thru with the plan President Trump left in place, these people would still be in their home country, but “NO” it was Trump's plan. Just like the border that's out of control, Joe Biden is more concerned with parents standing up against school boards that are trying to get CRT as part of the curriculum. He wants the DOJ and AG Merrick to squash parents' dissent. The Border and Afghanistan were minor irritants, but parents dissent about CRT that cannot stand.

Lupe Molina

That just doesn't make sense. The extraction was a mess but it doesn't prevent these people being displaced from 20 years of war prior. Everything else here is [offtopic]

LeRoy Sanchez

?

Jim Klukkert

Aw Joe, short term memory loss plaguing you now? It was Republican Geo. W. who started this war, then deepened it by shifting targets from Bin Ladin to Saddam Hussein, as the latter "tried to kill my Daddy."

And who kept the lately removed Afghani out of talks between the Taliban and the US Government, ultimately agreeing to the sort of time-table withdrawal all folks recommend against? Donald J. Trump.

I am not saying that the leadership of both national parties is innocent in this mess. I am a member of neither party, as a Democratic-Socialist I find their policies often abhorrent. As an anti-imperialist, I take some inspiration from Mark Twain, who wrote in 1900, " I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land."

Your comments regarding CRT and the many illegal and anti-American threats and actual violence against school boards, not to mention voting officials and medical professionals, are merely the usual Trumpeteer Lies confusing issues in an attempt to confuse the electorate. But given these horse potatoes of yours are totally off-topic, I feel good in ignoring them.

LeRoy Sanchez

👍

Charlotte Rowe

The world is lucky nobody followed through with Trump's plan and that his other horrible things are being dismantled. He would never have allowed any refugees in. At least Biden isn't a monster.

LeRoy Sanchez

🤣

Steve Fitzer

There are homeless teachers in santa fe and no available housing. So, why?

Lupe Molina

Because you paid for 20 years of war that displaced these people. Take responsibility.

Juana Lemus

💯

Carolyn DM

Exactly!!

Joseph Tafoya

Lupe, we spent approximately $2.261 trillion dollars trying to do the impossible. Afghanistan was close to being self-governing. Although not perfect because the Taliban and the existing government would have a bilateral government. We would have left a residual force of approximately 3,000 troops. That was the deal that was on the table until Biden got elected. Then he mucked it up. He wanted to show end the war by 9/11, so he could do some boasting and crowing that he ended the war in Afghanistan. Well, what he did was unleash a series of events that go thirteen of our troops killed and God knows how many Afghans have died and will die. He was told by his military advisors not to do it and just like a child he did it anyway. It takes two opposing combatants to agree that hostilities will cease. I guess he forgot that.

Lupe Molina

It is so beyond foolish to think that after 20 years of failure, simply the presence of a couple thousand US troops in one city would have brokered a peaceful alliance in Afghanistan. It was absolutely not close to self governing, that's apparent to anyone else paying attention. Biden screwed up the extraction, no doubt. But, months later, we'd have been in largely the same situation.

Charlotte Rowe

Joseph if you think Afghanistan was anywhere NEAR being self-governing you are delusional and immune to facts. We wasted lives and treasure trying to "nation build" in a place we had no business occupying for 20 years. Enough already. The effort was doomed from the outset, as have all previous occupations been.

LeRoy Sanchez

LOL you’re so wrong!

Jim Klukkert

Joseph Tafoya- "Afghanistan was close to being self-governing."

Totally delusional, Joe, what the heck are you smoking?

Jim Klukkert

Lupe, good call, "take responsibility." [wink]

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