Afghan nationals fleeing amid Taliban takeover will soon settle in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Estimates are that some 300,000 people will be fleeing Afghanistan under terror as the country devolves into chaos under Taliban control, according to an international rescue group. There will be some headed to Memphis.

Each of the people coming to the United States will be seeking what is known as special immigrant visas from the State Department, meaning they’ve worked, in some fashion, with the US government during its mission in Afghanistan.

As a direct result of that work, their lives and those of their families have come under threat of retribution from the Taliban.

Hundreds of men and women, gripped with fear and desperation, seen clinging to the wheels of a departing plane were among the first images to emerge from the crisis in Afghanistan after the US military pulled troops from the country.

Amid the chaos, evacuated were at least two families that will arrive in Memphis to a stark, new reality, and their first, few days will be critical.

“Over the next 30 to 90 days, we’re helping them enroll in programs at World Relief and some of our other partners,” said PJ Moore, Director of the Memphis office of World Relief, one of a handful of organizations authorized to resettle those fleeing nations due to conflict or for religious reasons, such as refugees.

It will be Moore’s job to help smooth their transition, which will include seeking a social security number, obtaining housing, enrolling children in school, and learning English, he said. It’s a process that will be mired in challenges cutting through government red tape.

Many who will arrive in the US will suddenly find themselves near the bottom of a socio-economic ladder amid a new culture and, in some cases, an unknown language. Many will still have families still in Afghanistan whose lives remain under threat.

“I’ve seen the images, of fathers handing their children over the wall to get into the airport and Afghanistan. And it’s heartbreaking,” Moore said.

“Try to put yourself in those shoes and, and that’s a lot of times what I reflect on is these families are doing what they can to survive.”

The families arriving in Memphis will ultimately be joining those who have come ahead of them, estimated to be hundreds who have settled in Memphis in recent years, as America ends its involvement in its longest war.

Each of the families will undergo a screening process at US military bases.

The US has pledged to accept at least 22,000 SIV applicants before the end of Aug.