Moving Forward Together

Press Releases

JFS Statement Re: Refugee Evacuation and Resettlement from Afghanistan

From: Etleva Bejko, Director of Refugee & Immigration Services, Jewish Family Service of San Diego

As the devastating situation continues to unfold in Afghanistan, Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS) is actively preparing for the increase of refugees resettled in our region, while continuing to prioritize public health.

JFS is one of the primary refugee resettlement agencies in San Diego County and has been processing and welcoming Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients for many years. Now, these cases are being prioritized by the State Department in the wake of recent events. Most cases are assigned to JFS with little more than 24 hours’ notice before arrival, though all have prior connections — whether family or friends — to the San Diego region.

In the 2019-2020 federal fiscal year, JFS assisted 129 refugees and Special Immigrant Visa new arrivals from more than a dozen of countries, including Afghanistan. Prior to this humanitarian crisis, we had resettled 76 refugees and SIVs so far this year. In the last 10 days alone, we have resettled 59 individuals. With the situation in Afghanistan constantly evolving, we do not yet have an estimate as to how many more will arrive in the coming days, weeks or months.

JFS’s resettlement assistance includes case management, help with immigration and naturalization paperwork, cultural orientation classes, enrollment in English-as-a-Second-Language classes and short-term counseling, employment assistance, translation services and more. Our team also supports arriving refugees in San Diego by picking them up at the airport and finding them and putting together a secure, fully furnished place to live.

JFS was founded 103 years ago on the tradition of “Welcoming the Stranger” and aiding refugees, and we look forward to helping individuals and families from around the world rebuild their lives in San Diego in safety and with dignity.

Additional funding is needed from the government and private philanthropy to make this work possible, including for increased staffing and longer-term services for resettled refugees with permanent homes in San Diego. To donate, visit To volunteer, visit