Afghanistan refugees to Kansas? Churches and immigration groups are talking over plans to help if needed

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas could be a destination for refugees from Afghanistan.

Churches and refugee groups are talking about how they could help.

“For them, it will be housing. That is the first thing we have to look for,” said Yeni Telles with Sunflower Community Action of Wichita.

Telles also works for an International Rescue Committee.

“So they will be looking to find housing for them and employment later on,” said Telles.

While there are no plans, at the moment, for refugees to come to Kansas, some say Gov. Kelly opened the door for that possibility. So the discussion has started with some on how to help.

“The biggest way that we show our love to God is by loving our neighbors,” said Pastor Rachel Ringenberg Miller with Shalom Mennonite of Newton. “And so that’s really paying attention to those that are on the margins.”

Working with immigrants is nothing new to Miller. The pastor and her congregation have worked in the past on converting their church basement into an apartment space to house immigrants who do not yet have legal citizenship.

“The first thing that flashes for me is that we, we are bound to help in this situation,” said Miller. “I do think that there are groups here that would be very supportive.”

Miller says there is no firm plan at this time because it’s a bit of a wait-and-see situation.

Meanwhile, Telles says there are caseworkers ready to get to work on the most basic of human needs if Kansas were to get refugees.

“Last year, there were not many refugees. Now, the organizations are ramping up staffing and resources,” said Telles. “The expectation is that within 90-days a refugee family can be self-sufficient.”

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