By ELIZABETH MARCELLINO | City News Service
The Los Angeles County Supervisory Board voted Tuesday, Aug.31, to welcome and support returning Afghan refugees and military personnel with a range of services, including jobs and housing.
The vote was 4-0 as supervisor Sheila Kuehl was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Supervisor Janice Hahn noted that many are fleeing because they fear Taliban retaliation for aiding the US war effort.
“We have always been known in LA County as a place where immigrants from all nations can build new lives,” Hahn said. “We say to all Afghan nationals who come here, you are welcome here, you will be safe here and we will all work together to make sure your settlement is something we can all be proud of. “
Assistance can range from cash assistance to medical and mental health care, workforce development and immigration legal assistance.
Private companies are also mobilizing to help. Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who co-wrote the motion, highlighted Airbnb’s international efforts to open homes for Afghans and said she was proud to be able to give back.
“I am committed to helping in any way I can to provide safe and welcoming placement for all, and homes for them, and jobs for those who come to LA County,” said Barger, calling the work of “vitally important”.
With the Refugee Task Force in place, the board plans to send a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken letting him know LA County is ready to work with the federal government in its efforts to resettle Afghan nationals.
The motion also called for an assessment of all services available to returning military veterans.
“We must be ready to provide any assistance these soldiers may need when they return home,” Solis said, noting that a member of his staff on military leave had not yet returned from Afghanistan.
At the start of the board meeting, at Solis’s request, supervisors observed a minute’s silence and then adjourned in memory of the 13 servicemen and approximately 170 Afghans killed in the airport suicide bombing. from Kabul last week.
Solis read the names of the dead American servicemen one by one.
“We have lost too many Los Angeles County military personnel,” she said.
Barger highlighted the potential need for mental health services.
“These soldiers who have sacrificed so much are also going through a difficult period,” she said. “As we close a chapter, for some it is still very open and we need to provide them with a healing process to move forward.”
A report is due in 30 days, including a coordinated plan to quickly link refugees and veterans to services.