MINNEAPOLIS — One year after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, more than 1,200 Afghan refugees have settled in Minnesota.
Among those restarting their lives is Anwar Jamili, who arrived in St. Paul in April. He currently works three part-time jobs while sharing apartments with his parents and his wife and children.
While Jamili says he’s grateful to be in America, he continues to grieve for what he calls the “nightmare” of his country losing its future as a free society.
“We had everything,” Jamili said. “We had everything set. We had soldiers, we had system, we had government. Why it collapsed? It’s a question mark for everyone, not only me.”
Unlike Jamili, some Afghan refugees in Minnesota don’t have English language skills and are without work. Of those who are resettling in Minnesota, nearly 400 are family units, and almost half of the arrivals are teenagers or younger.
Finding permanent housing for the refugees remains a struggle, state officials say. Additionally, work is also being done to prepare families for their first taste of winter in Minnesota.
The transition to life in Minnesota goes beyond housing. Organizations like the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans is urging residents to welcome the refugees.
“There’s been a strong sense of isolation once they’ve moved into these individual apartments or into houses,” said Anjuli Cameron, research director at the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. “They’re not necessarily connected to the community around them.”
Another looming challenge is immigration laws. The Afghan refugees have been given two years of legal status but no firm pathway to citizenship.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) is co-sponsoring a bill to change that.