Gov. Ned Lamont talks to veterans about resettling Afghan refugees. Credit: Christine Stuart

Connecticut is ready to welcome 310 Afghan refugees who were able to escape the Taliban in the past few weeks. The effort to resettle them is bipartisan.

Gov. Ned Lamont made the announcement Friday on the steps of the state Capitol. He was flanked by a Democratic mayor and the chair of the Republican Town Committee in Fairfield. The effort is a bipartisan issue. 

“This is not a partisan issue. This is not a Biden administration issue,” Alex Plitsas, a veteran and spokesman for Digital Dunkirk, said. 

Plitsas, a Republican from Fairfield and an Iraq and Afghan war veteran said he has a solemn obligation to “stand by those who stood by us for the last 20 years.” 

“We have a unique opportunity to resettle a group of people who share our values,“ Plitsas said. 

Connecticut has also joined Welcome.US, a bipartisan organization committed to helping Afghan refugees resettle.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said there is something unique about America’s relationship with these refugees. 

“They have been our allies through decades of war,” Bronin said.

He said Hartford has a history of welcoming refugees, including Bosnians in the 90s. 

While the work evacuating all of those who helped Americans is not done, “This is phase two of a mission. Once people are out, they’re gonna need somewhere to go,” Plitsas said. 

Plitsas said his life was saved on more than one occasion by an Afghan who interpreted for him while he was doing intelligence work.

“There is no more noble cause than this,” Plitsas said. 

Plitsas and his organization were able to get 1,000 Americans and 5,000 Afghans on flights out of Kabul before Aug. 31. 

However, that’s just a small number of those who are still in Afghanistan who are trying to get out with the help of veteran organizations like Digital Dunkirk.

“This is not a political issue. This is a moral one,” Plitsas said. 

Susan Schnitzer, president & CEO, for Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, said the 310 Afghans will include families and children. 

She called them “humanitarian parolees” and not refugees. She said the status will give them at least two years in the country. 

Each has been thoroughly vetted before reaching the United States. 

“Fully vetted, vaccinated,” Schnitzer said. 

“These folks are coming probably with just the clothing on their backs,” she said. 

She said they need volunteers and donations to make sure these families are welcomed. 

“We have yet to have the first family come to us,” Schnitzer said. “So it will be ongoing on what the needs may be.” 

She said there still is nothing definitive from the federal government. 

The two resettlement agencies in Connecticut are CIRI, the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, and I.R.I.S., Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services.