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South Bay Congressman Welcomes Afghan Refugees Arriving in Fremont

FREMONT (KPIX) -- There's a new life awaiting Afghan refugees landing in Fremont after the Taliban takeover.

"When people leave Afghanistan, it's not because they want to leave. They have to leave. They have their own house, their own jobs, lives -- everything but they must leave because they want to stay alive, not death," said Farzana, a U.S. citizen who came here from Afghanistan in 2011.

Fremont was already the largest Afghan community outside of that country and now more are arriving after last month's airlift out of Kabul.

Representative Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) met with some refugees Friday and told them they are welcome and valued here.

"They should understand the contributions the Afghan community has made here. Hard-working doctors and lawyers and engineers and entrepreneurs, people who work in blue collar jobs at gas stations and Uber drivers -- wonderful food, wonderful music, wonderful culture. They enrich our community," Rep. Khanna told KPIX.

While meeting with Khanna and Fremont mayor Lily Mei, Afghans and Afghan-Americans clutched their cellphones waiting for news from loved ones still stranded abroad.

Farzana's mother is currently stuck at a refugee camp in Belgium.

"Right now, she has all the paperwork approved and she wants to come here but these two governments -- United States and Belgium government -- need to make a plan how they can send my mother here," Farzana said.

The city of Fremont has a fund of nearly a quarter of a million dollars to help refugees get settled and make their way in America.

"This is a critical moment and, in this time when so many people are trying to find a new home or get back together with their families, we want to serve as a resource," Mei said.

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