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Up to 75 Afghans fleeing the Taliban can resettle in Montana

Montana has 75 resettlement spots open for Afghans fleeing the Taliban through a process known as “being paroled” into the United States.

MTPR’s Freddy Monares explains the vetting process Afghan nationals go through before getting resettled.

According to an international group helping refugees resettle in Montana, the month-old parole process grants qualified Afghans a two-year stay in the United States.

Eamon Fahey is the International Rescue Committee’s deputy director for programs.

“I trust that there also is great care done with, in terms of security vetting and those types of things,” he says.

Fahey says so far one Afghan has resettled in Montana after arriving in the United States about a month ago.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the person’s fingerprints were taken, and their eyes and other unique physical characteristics were scanned for automated recognition before coming to the state.

Fahey says the process is designed to get U.S. allies out of Afghanistan quickly, after the Taliban assumed control of the country. Those qualified for resettlement are interpreters, guides and others who worked with the U.S. army or non-governmental organizations.

Unlike the Special Immigrant Visa process that allows people to apply for citizenship immediately, the path to citizenship for people paroled into the U.S. is unclear. Fahey says they may go through the immigration process or the asylum process. His organization will help guide them through that.

He says up to 12 more people have been assigned to resettle in Montana so far. After being tested for COVID-19 at a military base, they’ll get at least the first dose of a vaccine.

Fahey expects those 75 spots will fill up quickly, with the process ramping up by the beginning of next week.

Freddy Monares is a reporter and Morning Edition host at Montana Public Radio.
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