Over 500 Afghan refugees to settle in Chicago

How to help Afghan refugees: 17 aldermen sent President Biden letter welcoming Afghans

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Our Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than 500 refugees from Afghanistan are expected to re-settle in Chicago over the coming months.

Seventeen aldermen recently sent a letter to President Joe Biden welcoming these future residents, saying in part "Chicago has long been a safe-haven for refugees escaping war and political violence."

The letter went on to say "in recognition of their sacrifice working alongside our troops, diplomats and partner organizations, we invite Afghan refugees to join us in Chicago, to share our home, and to build something greater together."

Several organizations will be helping these refugees make the transition to a new country, new city and a new culture.


"It's been a very tumultuous journey," said Susan Sperry, executive director of World Relief Chicagoland, "Imagine having literally your entire world upended overnight. For many people arriving here, they've waited hours and hours and hours for evacuation flights. They've been separated from family members, or they've had to make excruciating decisions as they flee."

Lea Tienou-Gustafson is the director of Refugee and Immigrant Community Services at Heartland Alliance.

"I think Chicago is an excellent place for Afghan refugees to come because there is a strong and supportive and welcoming community here already. Organizations like Heartland, World Relief, we've been resettling and welcoming Afghans for years, and so there is an established community mostly on the North Side and northern suburbs. And they have been extremely gracious partners in helping welcome these folks who are coming right now," she said.

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And there are other ways for other people to help, Sperry said.

"All resettlement organizations would welcome financial partnership in these days. We're all seeking housing for the individuals who are coming, the families who are coming. So if you are a landlord or know of housing for rent, we'd love to hear from you," she said.


"We have a moral obligation as a society to welcome these folks," Tienou-Gustafson added. "A lot of the people who are still in Afghanistan are people who worked directly in support of the United States military and worked hand-in-hand with the U.S. government, and so it's really our obligation to welcome them here, and to do it in a way that is fully welcoming."