Commentary: Let’s follow the example of former Gov. Dan Evans and help resettle Afghanistan’s refugees

Sen. Jesse Salomon

Forty-six years ago, upon the fall of Saigon, thousands of Southeast Asian refugees fled violence and persecution in their home countries. Like the governors of other states at the time, Dan Evans could have ignored their plight. The Vietnam War had divided the country and left wounds that would take decades to heal. Many Americans wanted to simply look the other way.

Evans, Washington’s Republican governor at the time, saw things differently — especially after he learned that the governor of California did not want refugees to enter his state and had tried to block the arrival of the first planeload. Evans directed state agencies to assist refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and challenged churches and other organizations to provide donations and moral support. He recruited Washington families to host refugees in their homes and pressed businesses to hire refugees.

That’s an example we should follow today as Afghans flee persecution and worse in their home country. To that end, I am providing a statewide list of Refugee Resettlement Agencies from the state Department of Social and Health Services Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance as well as this FAQ of general information on the crisis, also from DSHS. I wish I could provide even more resources, but legislative guidelines limit the kinds of resources we can offer links to. In any case, news stories of the horrors facing Afghanis today are abundant, and their plight is dire.

I believe we will be, and should be, judged harshly if we let people who aided our military forces be murdered for want of a safe place to flee. Anything less would diminish us in the eyes of the world — indeed, anything less would be fundamentally and inexcusably inhumane. We can do better, and I am confident we will.

— By Sen. Jesse Salomon

State Sen. Jesse Salomon represents the 32nd Legislative District, which includes portions of Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.

  1. That is all well and good, as long as they are all properly vetted including for C-19 or any other diseases that exist in the third world. Additionally, they should understand that they will be expected to be “self reliant” once they have settled in and to learn American English so that they will be employable. Finally, understand that we wish them to become Americans, not Afghanis who happen to live here.

    1. What exactly is it by “become americans” that you mean. What does it mean to, “be an American”. I hear this all the time, but no one ever anwsers this question. In what ways should they “become American”? Should they convert to Christianity in order to fit in with the majority? Should they give up their rich culinary history and feed their families a diet of good old American 8 pound beef burgers and deep fried cheese with a side of 4000 calorie pizza? Should they ban their children from speaking their native languages at home? If you’re worried worried they are bringing Salafi fundementalism, to the United States, why on earth would they be so desperate to flee a country thay is currently being run under salafi islam?.

      America had 20 years to defeat the taliban and failed. The least we can do is provide safety for the thousands of people we duped into working for us with false promises

      1. Mr. Iqbal,
        “America” is vastly more than a geographical spot on the planet. It is more than anything and “idea” that people from all over the world come to this “melting pot” and embrace the tenants of freedom, liberty, personal responsibility and among other things adopt the primary glue that holds any society together which is a common language. American English is the language of success and unity in this Republic and it matters not what someone speaks at home, nor does it matter what religion is practiced as long as it is not anathema to personal liberty. My question is, are people coming here because they want to embrace and experience the American dream, or simply to get away from a miserable existence ?

    1. I suggest you walk around the UW campus if your impression of south and Central Asian immigrants is that we are a “drain on social services who don’t contribute to society”. You’ll be surprised at how many students are not White.

  2. Rep. Salomon’s comments are welcome. Subject to any disqualification for misdeeds, et al, yes we should welcome Afghans as immigrants. I expect that Afghans will enthusiastically integrate in the US much as the Vietnamese and others have. Look at how Hmong and others have integrated as productive wonderful Americans.

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