Kentucky Politics

Democratic state lawmakers are calling on the federal government to act quickly to get vulnerable Afghans out of their country and into resettlement programs in Kentucky.

“The Afghan people who protected your sons and daughters, who provided us food, contractors, safe passage, information so we could stay safe, now require our support,” Rep. Pamela Stevenson (D-Louisville) said. 

Stevenson is a retired U.S. Airforce Colonel. 

“There’s no way that we can turn our back on a people that said, for 20 years, ‘I’ll risk my life for the promise of America, and I’m not American,’” Stevenson said.

Lawmakers and leaders of refugee aid organizations called for swifter evacuation of Afghans who supported U.S. and ally operations over the last 20 years. 

“I am everyday connecting with those people in my family in Afghanistan, just only crying—nothing else,” Khalilullah Sharifi said. 

Sharifi is an Afghan refugee who has been in the U.S. for the 40 years.

The Pentagon says 17,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul in the past week, but as many as 100,000 Afghans are still trying to escape. 

“Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in less than a week,” Rep. Nima Kulkarni (D-Louisville) said at a Sunday press conference outside Kentucky Refugee Ministries in Louisville. “The Afghan people do not have the luxury of time, of hesitation, or of our bureaucracy.”

Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Louisville) said she is particularly concerned about girls and young women under Taliban rule. 

“They were given the promise by Americans that they could live their life free, and that their country would be able to use all of their talents and skills, and I can only imagine how young women, and women are feeling today. We cannot leave them behind,” Jenkins said.

Lawmakers are sending a letter to the state’s federal delegation of lawmakers and Gov. Andy Beshear urging action.

“I suggest really big planes. Even if that requires the Kentucky National Guard, I think that’s something we should make available,” Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville) said.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.