Orange County Board of Supervisors Approves Plan to Help Afghan Refugees, Residents Share Concerns

By Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times.
September 15, 2021 Updated: September 16, 2021

The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a three-year service plan for Afghan refugees entering the county as concerned residents discussed their hesitancy at the Sept. 14 meeting.

Krishna Murphy, an Orange County resident, told the board that immigrants are “highly valued members of society,” but he is concerned over who is being allowed in.

“Responding to the proposition that we accommodate refugees in Orange County, and I’m not against that in principle,” he said. “I think that America is the land of opportunity and America has prospered by the immigrants that have come here.”

“In this case, who is it that we are bringing into our country, what’s being added?” Murphy asked. “How many of these people are actually Taliban? Has there been any vetting done?”

Another county resident said she’s not against refugees coming into the country but advised the board to prioritize the need of residents.

“You have provided us with zero framework with which you will be vetting these refugees,” she said. “Where you will be placing them, how will we place them anywhere when we cannot place the homeless individuals who currently reside in our country?

“Homelessness is running rampant, we have vaccine hesitation, we have no control over these immigrant and minority communities, and yet we’re bringing more immigrants and minorities into our community, and we have no resources, we have no ability to house them.”

Supervisor Doug Chaffee advocated for the agenda item and told The Epoch Times that 950 Afghan refugees would be spread out across the state.

“It’s important to show that we are who we are as Americans that we welcome people, that we are generous and helping those who can’t, and in this instance, we’re helping Afghanistan,” he said. “People who helped us, our nation, and we should not desert them, so we’re very pleased to help them any way we can.”

Afghan refugees will initially be arriving in Sacramento. While it’s possible many can enter Orange County, it’s not clear how many will be transported, since the county is known to have high rental costs.

While there’s no active resettlement agency in the county, the board is urging nonprofits and charities to step forward to assist refugees that will enter the state. Additionally, both Chaffee and Chairman Andrew Do plan to provide $1,000 per month for five years out of their personal funds to help with resettlement.

Prior to the recent Afghanistan evacuation, 48 Afghans had been transported to the county. With more anticipated to arrive, Chaffee and the board hope to pave a way for them to become integrated into the community.

“One of the important things is helping them assimilate over time, which means that they may need language training, they may need housing, of course, and they may need employment training, just to be able to get around in a new environment,” Chaffee said.

Chaffee intends to assist the entering refugees, with education and housing being a top priority.

“Housing is our greatest need,” he said. “It’s difficult, housing is expensive here, so we’re hoping that various charities and businesses, in addition to whenever we have a government program, we can step up and help out.”

With many residents hesitant about the refugees, Chaffee urged the community to act on a humanitarian basis to assist those in need. As concerned residents questioned who would be entering the state, Chaffee reassured them that refugees are heavily vetted by the federal government.

The agenda item passed unanimously.

Vanessa Serna is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times.