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Walz extends Minnesota’s welcome mat to Afghan refugees

August 20, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 file photo hundreds of people gather outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Hundreds of Western nationals and Afghan workers have been flown to safety since the Taliban reasserted control over the country. Yet still unprotected, and in hiding, are untold numbers of Afghans who tried to build a fledgling democracy. They include Afghans who worked with foreign forces, and who are now stranded and being hunted by the Taliban, along with aid workers. (AP Photo, File)
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FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 file photo hundreds of people gather outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Hundreds of Western nationals and Afghan workers have been flown to safety since the Taliban reasserted control over the country. Yet still unprotected, and in hiding, are untold numbers of Afghans who tried to build a fledgling democracy. They include Afghans who worked with foreign forces, and who are now stranded and being hunted by the Taliban, along with aid workers. (AP Photo, File)
1 of 6
FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 file photo hundreds of people gather outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Hundreds of Western nationals and Afghan workers have been flown to safety since the Taliban reasserted control over the country. Yet still unprotected, and in hiding, are untold numbers of Afghans who tried to build a fledgling democracy. They include Afghans who worked with foreign forces, and who are now stranded and being hunted by the Taliban, along with aid workers. (AP Photo, File)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is extending a welcome mat for refugees from Afghanistan.

In a letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday, Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan offered to to work with the federal government to continue Minnesota’s history of welcoming refugees by assisting with the resettlement of people fleeing Afghanistan.

“Minnesota has a strong tradition of welcoming those who seek refuge and supporting them to rebuild their lives and become part of our communities,” their letter said. “Minnesota is eager to uphold that tradition by welcoming families and children and providing the stable foundation they need to rebuild their lives, achieve their highest potential, and contribute to our state.”

Tens of thousands of Afghans have been trying to flee their home country since the Taliban takeover, with desperate crowds thronging Kabul’s airport.

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Minnesota is already home to some of the largest Hmong, Somali and Liberian communities in the U.S., as well as a small Afghan community. The state has also drawn significant numbers of refugees in recent decades from Myanmar, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Iraq, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bosnia and the former Soviet Union.

“New Minnesotans strengthen our communities and contribute to the social fabric of our state,” Walz and Flanagan wrote. “They are our neighbors.”