Forty-six years ago, upon the fall of Saigon, thousands of Southeast Asian refugees fled violence and persecution in their home countries. Like the governors of other states at the time, Dan Evans could have ignored their plight. The Vietnam War had divided the country and left wounds that would take decades to heal. Many Americans wanted to simply look the other way.
Evans, Washington’s Republican governor at the time, saw things differently — especially after he learned that the governor of California did not want refugees to enter his state and had tried to block the arrival of the first planeload. Evans directed state agencies to assist refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and challenged churches and other organizations to provide donations and moral support. He recruited Washington families to host refugees in their homes and pressed businesses to hire refugees.
That’s an example we should follow today as Afghans flee persecution and worse in their home country. To that end, I am providing a statewide list of Refugee Resettlement Agencies from the state Department of Social and Health Services Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance as well as this FAQ of general information on the crisis, also from DSHS. I wish I could provide even more resources, but legislative guidelines limit the kinds of resources we can offer links to. In any case, news stories of the horrors facing Afghanis today are abundant, and their plight is dire.
I believe we will be, and should be, judged harshly if we let people who aided our military forces be murdered for want of a safe place to flee. Anything less would diminish us in the eyes of the world — indeed, anything less would be fundamentally and inexcusably inhumane. We can do better, and I am confident we will.
— By Sen. Jesse Salomon
State Sen. Jesse Salomon represents the 32nd Legislative District, which includes portions of Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.
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