LAS CRUCES — New Mexico is preparing to welcome 400 refugees who fled Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of U.S. troops in August, and groups are seeking volunteers and donations to help with the effort.
About 100 of those refugees are expected to resettle in Las Cruces, according to officials with Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, the state’s primary nongovernmental refugee resettlement organization. The remainder are expected to relocate to Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Andrew Byrd, the southern New Mexico coordinator for LFS, told the Las Cruces Sun-News that Afghan refugees are expected to relocate to the southern New Mexico city by March 2022. He said the numbers for the state and each city are projected capacities submitted by his group to the federal government.
Some Afghan refugees are being sheltered at nearby military installations as they are connected with resettlement organizations.
At Holloman Air Force Base, Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Range Complex and other military installations around the country, officials have said refugees are tested for COVID-19 before arriving. Once on base, they undergo further medical screening and can apply for immigration status and work authorizations before resettlement organizations place them into communities.
The LFS Las Cruces office partnered with the Muslim Student Association at New Mexico State University to help refugees once they arrive. The groups have asked for volunteers who can serve as translators and to transport donated goods. They’ve also asked people to donate money, furniture, electronics such as phones and laptops and school supplies.