MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Congresswoman Ilhan Omar calls her visit with Afghan evacuees “emotional” and “uplifting.”
The Minnesota Democrat visited Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy Saturday. Thousands of people have called the base home for the past month. Omar came to the U.S. as a refugee herself and wants to make sure people get the support they need to adjust to life in America.
“It is incredible to see that from overnight that they were able to accommodate this many people,” said Omar.
One of Omar’s Democratic colleagues from Wisconsin, Rep. Gwen Moore, also made he visit.
“To make sure that we were fulfilling our promise and to making sure that they were being met with dignified and humane levels of process,” said Moore. “We saw children running around learning how to fist bump, feeling very much at home and feeling very welcome.”
Joining them were members of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition.
“One of the things that stayed with me is that they said they’re eager to get out and not be a burden on society, but rather to contribute to society,” said Janan Najeeb, president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition.
Fort McCoy is temporarily housing 12,700 refugees, of the nearly 60,000 evacuated so far to the U.S.
The congresswomen say during their visit, Afghan women shared their hopes for the future, but also their concerns.
“It was quite emotional but also uplifting, the resilience of the women, the children, and the men here is incredible,” said Omar.
For now, base personnel are supporting their transition by offering English lessons and helping families anyway they can.
“We as a country have opened our arms and we are simply waiting to help them settle and realize their dreams,” said Najeeb.
Moore says the vetting process to resettle refugees outside of Fort McCoy is likely to begin in mid November. Minnesota and Wisconsin are expected to welcome thousands of people.