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Utah governor offers to help refugees from Afghanistan

August 18, 2021 GMT
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference as the crowd talks over him and eats lunch at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Thursday, July 29, 2021. (Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via AP)
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference as the crowd talks over him and eats lunch at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Thursday, July 29, 2021. (Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via AP)
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference as the crowd talks over him and eats lunch at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Thursday, July 29, 2021. (Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is offering help in resettling refugees fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban suddenly swept to power following the U.S. withdrawal.

Cox, a Republican, sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday saying the state is eager to help Afghans, especially those who helped U.S. troops, diplomats or journalists.

Utah has a history of welcoming refugees, in part because of its own history, Cox said. The state was founded after members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints crossed the country 170 years ago seeking the freedom to practice religious beliefs without interference.

“Their descendants have a deep understanding of the danger and pain caused by forced migration and an appreciation for the wonderful contributions of refugees in our communities,” he wrote.

Thousands of Afghans are looking for ways to escape what they see as a return of a ruthless fundamentalist rule after the Taliban took control of the country.

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Since late July, more than 2,000 Afghans have been flown to Fort Lee Army base in Virginia and thousands more are still expected. The Afghans who worked for the U.S. government and their families can qualify for special immigrant visas. Tens of thousands of others who also qualified have been left behind because of a backlog of visa applications.