Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Freedom House Detroit and Samaritas Working to Help Afghan Refugees

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

Local refugee service workers discuss the resettlement process for incoming Afghan refugees.

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The Taliban has once again seized control of Afghanistan. In response, the United States is getting ready to receive thousands of Afghan refugees. The approval process is slow and grueling. Refugees are finding it near impossible to gain entry to the United States. For those who do, the resettlement process will be difficult. 

We are preparing to welcome hundreds of refugees this year … the overseas process is very arduous. It takes several layers of vetting … and cross referencing. Some of them are waiting for years, even decades.” — Mihaela Mitrofan, New American Services at Samaritas

Freedom House Detroit and Samaritas are working hard to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers will be supported in their resettlement process in Michigan. 


Listen: How Freedom House Detroit and Samaritas are assisting incoming refugees. 


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Deborah Drennan is the CEO of Freedom House Detroit, which provides services and housing for asylum seekers in Michigan. “Freedom House Detroit is a temporary home but a lifetime community for asylum seekers,” she says. ”Asylum seekers are individuals who are forced to flee their country. They have suffered persecution or have a well-founded fear of future persecution … When they get to Detroit, we help them to assess their eligibility for asylum seeking.”

Drennan explains that many Americans have security concerns regarding the influx of Afghan refugees. She says, “I think this is what the community wants to be assured … how do we rule out that they’re not the terrorists? I’ve been working at Freedom House for over a decade … and the system has not failed.”

Mihaela Mitrofan is director of New American Services at Samaritas, a statewide human services organization that provides refugee resettlement services across Michigan. “I think it’s important to understand that the refugee process is very structured and complex. Once refugees arrive to the U.S., our team begins the resettlement process. They’re essentially homeless so we give them services they need within the first 90 days,” says Mitrofan. 

Mitrofan says that the approval process is needlessly complex for many refugees. ”We are preparing to welcome hundreds of refugees this year … the overseas process is very arduous,” she says. “It takes several layers of vetting … and cross referencing. Some of them are waiting for years, even decades.”

Web story written by Molly Ryan

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