JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. — Camp Atterbury is now the temporary home to some Afghan refugees with possibly thousands more to come soon.
Camp Atterbury is set to see up to 5,000 refugees pass through its gates. Rep. Andre Carson, (D) Indiana, sees this as an opportunity for Hoosiers.
“Today Hoosiers, and really all Americans, have an opportunity to welcome Afghans with open arms,” he said.
Carson said Indiana will be a leader for what resettlement looks like for the thousands of Afghans coming to the U.S.
“I think Hoosier hospitality is paramount,” he said.
The first Afghans arrived Thursday at the Indianapolis Airport, these pictures from the National Guard show refugees’ first steps on American soil.
State Senator Fady Qaddoura, D-Indianapolis, said this is a great opportunity for Indiana and the country.
“Our nation is a nation of immigrants and we succeed by welcoming more people and by being sure we create opportunities for everyone,” Qaddoura said.
Both Qaddoura and Carson said they’re looking for any way their offices can help.
Carson said volunteers will play a large part in helping the refugees.
“The NGOs and the nonprofits will have a lot of heavy lifting as it relates to this and folks transitioning back into society,” Carson said.
A spokesperson for the Red Cross said eight of their volunteers provided humanitarian aid to refugees as they arrived at the Indianapolis Airport on Thursday. We also saw a few Red Cross cars coming and going at Camp Atterbury on Friday.
“This isn’t about politics, it’s about treating people with kindness and respect,” Carson said.
To those unsure about these allies coming to Indiana and America, Qaddoura hopes you’ll reconsider.
“I appeal to their humanity, I appeal to their compassion, I appeal to the values that drive them,” he said.
An immigrant himself, Qaddoura said the process of rebuilding your life in a new country is not an easy journey.
“It’s a very difficult process and it takes a lot of love and compassion from strangers, from governments from nonprofits to make that journey just a little bit easier,” Qaddoura said.
It’s unclear when the next plane of Afghan refugees will land in Indiana, it’s also unknown how many are already here.