100 Afghan refugees to arrive in Owensboro in mid-September

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OWENSBORO, Ky. — Owensboro will take 100 Afghan parolees as part of the International Center of Kentucky starting mid-September, the Owensboro Times reported.


The parolees are refugees that are evacuating immediately and will be going through the immigration process when they arrive.


Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, parole is a tool that allows certain individuals to enter and stay in the U.S. without a visa. Parole is granted either for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or because the entrance of an individual is determined to be a “significant public benefit” to the U.S. While visa processes can take years or decades, the parole process may take days or even just hours to complete.


While it is often used when rapid admissions are necessary, each parole application must be considered individually and receive sign-off from senior government officials. Parole programs all involve various vetting and processing requirements 


The ICK provides services for the refugees during their first 90 days in the country including counseling, employment, enrolling the children in school, parents in English classes and more.


The decision for the 100 to move to Owensboro came last week, though plans for the group to come to the United States have been in place for some time now, according to Anna Allen, site director for the Owensboro office.


“Typically, the [vetting] process takes about two years. However, since they are coming here, I think they’re going to kind of cut through some of the red tape that’s normally [there] and just go ahead and do the whole vetting process at once with them,” Allen said.


Allen said typically she finds most difficulties that arise with transitioning include language and cultural barriers.


When the refugees arrive, Allen said several organizations are prepared to help the transition with all of the different services they offer.


“Our clients are going to come here with their employment authorization card in hand and will be able to start working pretty soon — like almost immediately,” Allen said. “So this is also going to be great for the Owensboro community in our business owners and trying to find employees.”

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