Kanawha County delegate writes to White House about welcoming Afghan refugees to West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County lawmaker has reached out to the White House about possibly having Afghans located to West Virginia after being evacuated from Afghanistan.

Delegate Kayla Young, D-Kanawha, sent a letter dated Friday to President Joe Biden. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Gov. Jim Justice, and Lawrence Bartlett with the U.S. Department of State’s refugee admissions bureau received copies of the letter.

Delegate Kayla Young, D-Kanawha

“We urge you to protect all Afghan citizens and those fleeing the country as refugees, assist them in seeking safety and resettling in a new home. We stand ready and willing to welcome Afghan refugees to West Virginia,” Young wrote.

The delegate noted the state Legislature’s efforts to attract people to the state; West Virginia is one of three states that lost population between the 2010 and 2020 census, in which West Virginia led the states in the population loss rate.

“While we recognize that states play a very limited role in shaping federal diplomatic or military policies, West Virginia is a wild, wonderful, welcoming state,” Young said. “We welcome the opportunity to invite more people to move here to experience all that our state has to offer.”

During Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing, Justice rejected the opportunity to welcome Afghan refugees; he instead focused on Americans trying to return to the United States.

“Where my concern is is the Americans over there, and if you think that’s selfish, well, you just think it’s selfish. That’s all there is to it,” he said. “I want us to get our people home. It’s not that I don’t care about the others, but I want our people home. And as far as bringing in others and everything, that’s a decision for later.”

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., joined colleagues on separate letters urging action on evacuating Afghan allies and American citizens. Manchin joined 54 other senators in calling on the Biden administration to utilize changes made to the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program, which is directed toward Afghans who provided services during American missions.

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