CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — As 37,000 Afghan refugees begin resettlement across the United States the Mountain State will be receiving zero.
West Virginia is only one of four states to not get any Afghan refugees.
While that number may change in the future, some say they hope it’s not too late to welcome them here.
A map by CBS News composed of federal data shows which states will be resettling Afghan refugees.
The biggest receivers will be California, with more than 5,000 followed by Texas and Oklahoma.
Hawaii, Wyoming, West Virginia and South Dakota are not currently resettling any.
“Almost every state around us is getting 800 to 1,000 and I know we could really use that so it’s up to our executive branch to do something about it,” said Delegate Kayla Young (D-Kanawha).
Young is one of the voices in the legislature pushing for more.
Back in August, Young wrote a letter to President Biden and in it, she copied Governor Jim Justice.
“One of West Virginia’s first actions as a state in 1864 was to appoint a Commissioner of Immigration to attract new people to our Mountain State. More recently, the state of West Virginia and the legislature have been exploring ideas to attract people to our state. We were the only state in this most recent census to lose population,” reads the letter.
She says she still hasn’t received a reply.
But not everyone agrees with her.
“What never makes sense to me is that you’re going to help the state by bringing in third-world, foreign refugees who don’t even have above a 10th-grade education if that, that they are groups that are going to be dependent on those services, so I think we have enough people in West Virginia dependent on those services,” said Brenda Arthur, a South Charleston resident.
Arthur made a diagram with categories of expenses for resettlement like interpreters and education.
“There’s cash welfare, there’s Medicaid that does not get reimbursed from the federal government”
But Delegate Young says there’s an education component missing in the discourse about refugees, like the misconception that refugees aren’t vaccinated.
“These Afghani refugees are fleeing violence and we are a great welcoming people that need to be accepting of everybody, this state was made up of immigrants, I don’t see what the problem is here,” she said.
The West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry is currently hosting a Welcome Week with educational events for the public on the resettlement process.