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Massachusetts to welcome first Ukrainian refugees next week

March 30, 2022

First family is expected to arrive in West Springfield, six weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

March 30, 2022 CAI | By Patrick Flanary

Massachusetts is preparing to welcome its first Ukrainian family of refugees next week.

Governor Charlie Baker says the state should be ready to resettle evacuees fleeing what the United Nations calls Europe’s largest refugee crisis of the century.

The state Senate earmarked $10 million to support international evacuees, including Ukrainians, earlier this month. Baker said that money will supplement federal funding.

“We are expecting the first refugee family to arrive in West Springfield next week,” the faith-based nonprofit Ascentria Care Alliance tells CAI. “This family’s case was expedited because they already had refugee status in motion before this current crisis. This will likely be the case for other initial arrivals into the country.”

The Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) says the federal government will contact states if there is a request to assist with resettling asylees and refugees. The state has not yet received a request from the Biden administration related to Ukrainian refugees.

The ORI welcomed 48 Ukrainian immigrants to Massachusetts in 2021.

Volunteer support teams on Cape Cod have been helping resettle Afghan refugees since last year, providing assistance with access to housing, healthcare and employment.

Steve Schrader of Catholic Charities is helping 11 Afghans transition to American life in Barnstable and Sandwich.

“Every one of them actually has a job,” Schrader tells CAI. “They’re starting the next step, which is to gain independence, where they can handle things like going to the store themselves and giving themselves a ride to work. Number one, we let them know they’re welcome in the community: We’re your friends, you are loved in the community, and you will never feel alone.”

The Falmouth-based Neighborhood Support Team has been helping resettle an Afghan family of 9.

“The long-term goal is to empower these people to become independent and build new lives here,” the group’s co-chair, Marga McElroy, told CAI in October. “We’re feeling very happy about how our community is stepping up to make sure that there is a welcoming atmosphere.”

That month, President Biden raised the yearly national admissions cap to 125,000 refugees.

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