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103 faith-based organizations and 215 faith leaders sent a letter to Congress urging them to uphold U.S. asylum laws and strongly reject any anti-asylum measures. Earlier this month, people of faith joined immigrant-led groups in welcoming the Biden administration’s plans to end the inhumane Title 42 policy by May 23rd, and expressed their readiness to work with the administration to restore welcome.

Ukrainians arriving through the Uniting for Ukraine program will not be able to access the same public benefits and services as a refugee, and refugee resettlement agencies, like Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA), will not have funding to provide case management and job placement services.

Uniting for Ukraine leaves Ukrainians vulnerable and without access to the same benefits and services as a refugee. LSSNCA is gearing up to help welcome Ukrainians, and looks forward to continuing our partnerships throughout the community so we can build a strong network of welcome and support around our new neighbors. 

After years of advocacy by the diaspora and with the immigration community, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) is relieved the Biden Administration is finally extending lifesaving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Cameroonians.

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) welcomes the signaling from the Biden Administration that it will end Title 42, a decision that is long overdue. This harmful policy denied more than 1.7 million people fleeing persecution their lawful right to seek asylum in the United States.

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) is pleased by the announcement from the Biden Administration that the United States will welcome 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russian violence. We implore the Administration to diligently review visa options, so we do not leave another group stuck in immigration legal limbo like Afghan nationals who were granted humanitarian parole status.

This year, the General Assembly passed SB 68 / HB 979, important legislation that strengthens refugee
integration in Virginia and helps them continue to thrive. We encourage Governor Youngkin to swiftly sign the legislation into law. This legislation creates a provisional teacher licensure for teachers licensed or certified to teach outside of the United States and addresses the underutilization of refugee talent to strengthen our
education system.

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) is pleased with the Administration's announcement today that it has designated Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, acknowledging Afghans cannot return home due to the current dangers.

Over the last five years, Virginia’s resettlement program downsized significantly as the rate of refugee arrivals slowed. This devastated families awaiting reunification, abandoning their vulnerable relatives, and depriving employers who have relied upon refugees as employees with a reliable workforce The U.S. has committed to rebuilding the resettlement program and Virginia has already welcomed thousands of Afghan evacuees. Virginia has a critical role to play in investing in community wholeness and ensuring new arrivals have their basic needs met.

Near the nation’s capital, Lutheran Social Services has helped settle more than 4,000 Afghans since last summer. For many, the benefits of a community that is like “a second Kabul” outweigh the high housing costs, said Zabi, a housing coordinator for LSS and relatively recent refugee from Afghanistan.

The search for housing for Afghans comes amid a tightening housing market as the U.S. crawls out of the pandemic. The nationwide vacancy rate for rental units dropped about one percentage point, to 5.6%, in the last quarter of 2020, according to recently released U.S. Census data.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’d like to recognize another brave, determined woman, Hanifa Girowal. Hanifa was a human rights attorney in Afghanistan, working with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission for several years. She, like many went to work August 15 and then her day, and her future, changed in a matter of hours.

Government-funded resettlement agencies in Virginia often partner with houses of worship to help support refugees. The ADAMS Center in Sterling, Virginia has helped hundreds of refugees, including a family still traumatized by the violence they witnessed when they escaped Afghanistan in 2021. 

“It was a very bad day,” says Afghan refugee Diba, whose last name is being withheld for safety reasons. “It was a very bad, dangerous day. It is such an experience that it’s really hard to describe with words. If you have seen the photos, you must know how bad the situation was. Everyone was being trampled or killed. People’s clothes were being torn apart.” 

Home is where you should feel safe, and our hearts are with the people of Ukraine during this time of fear, uncertainty, and loss of safety. Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) offers our solidarity and prayers as we watch the situation unfold and see the traffic jams and border crossings as Ukrainians make difficult decisions to seek safety for themselves and their families.

In our experience providing counseling, citizenship, and employment services to Cameroonians, LSSNCA has heard their stories about the torture they experienced in Cameroon, the challenges they experienced with the U.S. asylum process, and their fears about their fate if they were to return.

Eleven days after the Taliban swept through Afghanistan’s capital in August, Hamed Ahmadi found himself far from the home he fled in Kabul eating cantaloupe, two slivers of chicken and a small piece of bread for dinner at a military base in El Paso, Texas – a meal that made waves on social media after the 28-year-old posted it to his Twitter account.... While the Afghan American community has stepped up as a resource for incoming migrants, neighbors from other communities have come together to welcome this newly displaced population, too. Resettlement organizations in the D.C. area have especially provided themselves as resources during this time, including LSSNCA.

Through the U.S. government’s initiative, Operation Allies Refuge, more than 100,000 Afghans have been evacuated to the U.S. and military bases. One of the organizations actively helping Afghan refugees resettle in the United States is the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, their CEO Kristyn Peck tells Elena Russo about the process and their needs.

LSSNCA is the 2022 recipient of the Lutheran Services in America (LSA) Micah Award, one of three prestigious leadership awards bestowed by LSA each year. Kristyn Peck, LSSNCA’s CEO, received the award during LSA’s virtual annual CEO Summit on Tuesday where she joined CEOs from the 300 Lutheran Services in America (LSA) member organizations. 

Refugee resettlement groups in the Washington region are scrambling to keep up with a huge influx of Afghan evacuees, leaving families waiting for housing and other services in a situation that could soon worsen as U.S. officials prepare to shut down temporary housing sites in military bases.

Before the Kabul airlift, “We had the staffing level to serve 500 people a year,” said Kristyn Peck, chief executive of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA), one of three local resettlement groups serving Northern Virginia. Peck has hired 35 additional workers since July — but, she said, “You can’t go to a staffing level to serve 500 people a month overnight.

In the last four years, Hannah Koilpillai, 65, has rounded up used furniture, beds, dishes and more to set up apartments for more than 500 people from other countries who resettle in the Washington area. Koilpillai herself came to the U.S. from India at age 10, and fondly remembers her family’s host — a woman who helped her family find health insurance and buy groceries.

In our area, since August 1, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area has resettled 150 families — almost 1,000 individuals — from Afghanistan. The social services organization expects to resettle 2,400 more people, mostly Afghans, over the next year, said spokesman Jacob Barclay.

Working with individuals who were forced to “Remain in Mexico,” we have seen the negative effects of the policy. During the Trump Administration, more than 60,000 asylum applicants were sent to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols. It is one thing to uphold a court order, another to expand it as the Biden Administration has done, enveloping the Western Hemisphere inclusive of Haitian migrants, into the fold now. 

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA), a human service agency that has served the D.C. Metro Area for more than 100 years, welcomes five new board members to join its rapidly growing organization.

After the dramatic airlift out of Kabul, tens of thousands of Afghans have been stuck in a holding pattern in the U.S. Many are housed for now on military bases, as we heard yesterday. They're awaiting resettlement in communities across the country, and organizations that work with refugees in those communities are racing to get ready.

“As the number of persons who are forced to leave their homelands globally is at a record high, increasing the number of U.S. refugee admissions is in alignment with our nation’s legacy and values,” said Kristyn Peck, LSSNCA CEO. LSSNCA has committed to serving 2,400 refugees in Fiscal Year 2022 and expects at least 90% of those numbers to be Afghans.

Refugee resettlement agencies are racing to find housing for the approximately 53,000 Afghans on military bases in the United States who will eventually be resettled in the country, but the groups are facing a strained -- and expensive -- housing market. "The housing crisis is essentially what Americans are experiencing but imagine approaching it when you don't have a nest egg, you don't have a safe income yet, you have no landlord references or history," said Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, a refugee resettlement agency.

The Lutheran Services in America network is working passionately to resettle Afghan allies and their families here in the United States. Following the recent takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area in Washington D.C., has been a leader in finding new homes for Afghans around the nation’s capital.

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