Cleveland has history of welcoming refugees

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CLEVELAND (WJW)– Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban could be brought to the United States and local leaders say they would be welcomed in Northeast Ohio.

“My reaction when I see people in such desperation is one of incredible sadness,” said Joe Cimperman, president of Global Cleveland. Global Cleveland is a nonprofit that welcomes immigrants and international newcomers to the city.

Cimperman said it feels like history repeating itself.

“It’s similar to what happened in Vietnam. We know that Cleveland was a site of relocation for people after the fall of Saigon,” Cimperman said.

So now, Global Cleveland is extending a hand out to Afghan refugees in need.

“We have to be public about our desire to welcome these individuals. We want our federal government to know we want to be one of those places where these individuals get relocated,” Cimperman said.

Cimperman said right now, the government is working to evacuate the refugees and then find facilities to house them. For those Afghans who do not qualify for the special visas, Cimperman said the Pentagon will then try to find locations across the U.S. to house them, like Cleveland.

“We have history. We’ve done this before. We’ve done this four times in the past four decades,” Cimperman said.

According to Global Cleveland, right now there are about 500 people from Afghanistan currently living in Cleveland who have come here over the years.

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