Senator Mark Warner visits with Afghan refugees staying in Virginia

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 10:21 PM EST

Nearly 300 Afghan refugees who fled the Taliban following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan are now finding temporary shelter inside the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia.

Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) visited the facility to tour the housing, cafeteria, and medical care the refugees are receiving at the site. He noted he was impressed by the amount of security at the center as he said hundreds more refugees will likely arrive next week.

The refugees will stay at the facility for up to 30-days before they are placed with family or in more permanent housing.

Warner, who serves as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the journey refugees took from Afghanistan to the U.S. reminds him of the journey the people of Ukraine are taking right now as they work to flee the Russia invasion.

”You know, people willing to pack up and leave their homes for freedom, this is the same circumstance that these families, these families have,” he said.

Jawaid Kotwal, who left Afghanistan several years ago, also toured the facility. He said his cousin was among the people who were forced to evacuate when the Taliban moved in.

“His pregnant wife stayed behind in Kabul along with his siblings and parents, and the child was born after he was evacuated so he hasn’t met his son,” said Kotwal, who said his cousin is now living with him at his home.

Kotwal urged U.S. lawmakers to take action on legislative measures to assist the Afghan refugees to settle into the United States by speeding up their path towards citizenship. He said if lawmakers don’t act, the high numbers of refugees working to find new homes will face a long legal process that will require immigration lawyers.

“We are just like you. We take the opportunity more serious because we don’t take this life for granted,” he said.

Hundreds of organizations, from local synagogues and mosques to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee services, which has helped tens of thousands settle in the U-S over the decades, are helping furnish new homes and get Afghani children enrolled in school.

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