SAN ANTONIO – Joint Base San Antonio is not among the four military installations around the country that will be temporarily housing an estimated 25,000 Afghan refugees, according to a senior Biden administration official.
Fort Bliss in El Paso is the only of the initial sites designated by the U.S. Department of Defense, but the official said DOD would consider other installations if needed.
The official said it will be up to each refugee working with a resettlement agency at those installations to decide where they want to go next.
The Center for Refugee Services, an independent nonprofit helping legally resettled refugees in San Antonio, is ramping up for an expected influx of Afghan arrivals.
How many is still unknown, said Margaret Constantino, the center’s executive director.
“It could be as many as 400. It could be as few as 100,” Constantino said.
She said the center already has seen one family who’d been evacuated in the current crisis.
“There are some people in the pipeline who will be coming,” Constantino said.
She also said there’s a good chance some of the new refugees may have family among the 600 Afghans who’ve been helped by the Center for Refugee Services since 2015.
“All of our Afghan clients are extremely worried, extremely worried about their relatives in Afghanistan, their neighbors,” Constantino said.
To prepare for the arrivals, Constantino said the center will begin by asking for cash donations to buy items the families will need.
“We do not want clothes or shoes at this point,” she said.
Constantino said the center’s website will be updated soon with some of the physical donations it will accept as well as additional information for those wanting to help.
“What we need are things like pillows and blankets and towels,” said Constantino, who added that personal hygiene products are needed.
Known for being a welcoming city, Constantino said she asks San Antonio for its patience as the new arrivals become acclimated to being in the United States.
“These are folks that will be permanent residents in our city, and we want them to understand that they are welcome here,” she said.