Representative Moore and Omar visit Fort McCoy, discuss needs and next steps with refugees

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FORT MCCOY, Wis. (WMTV) – Two Democratic lawmakers said they had peace of mind after a private tour of living facilities at Fort McCoy, a week after calling for an investigation into possible mistreatment and allegations of inadequate living conditions for nearly 13,000 people. Afghan refugees are currently accommodated there.

Milwaukee MP Gwen Moore and Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar visited the military base and spoke with refugees on Saturday, following a call by the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition to investigate the allegations.

“It was in our interest to do our monitoring work as members of Congress, to try to see what was really going on here at the Fort McCoy military base,” said Representative Omar.

Representative Omar and Congresswoman Moore both said they were impressed with the work military officials have done to make the lives of refugees comfortable.

“We were very, very happy when we saw the kids running around giving us hits and punches. This is how we knew it was okay, ”said MP Moore.

Representative Omar said many families they spoke with are eager to start their new lives in America and contribute to society.

“I know there are a lot of people who are politically scary, but they are probably the safest Americans we can, the safest neighbors we can have in our communities, and the agencies that do this. work are trustworthy, ”said Representative Omar.

The base is currently approaching its reception capacity and is currently hosting around 12,600 refugees. Congresswoman Moore said from what she learned during the tour, many refugees from Fort McCoy could begin to resettle in their new homes in the United States as early as mid-November.

“On Thursday alone, we passed a law not only to create real resources with $ 6 billion, but also to create a way for that status to be adjusted so that when people here who do not have permanent status but who are on humanitarian parole can actually obtain resettled refugee status and receive the resources they need to adjust to life in America, ”said Representative Omar.

Members of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition joined them on the tour and brought a truckload of new items, including winter coats, baby items, hijabs and other culturally appropriate clothing.

They also wanted to speak face to face with Afghan women and let them know that they would be welcome in their new communities.

“We assured them that it was not just the Muslim community, but all over the United States, we have opened our arms as a country and we are just waiting to know how we can help them settle and to make their dreams come true, ”said Janan Najeeb, Chair of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition.

Najeeb said these conversations were heartbreaking, but also inspiring.

“They are proud people. These are people who have always worked hard. They are very efficient. We met Fulbright among them, we met every level you can imagine and one of the things that stuck with me was that they said we couldn’t wait to get out there and not be a burden for society, but rather to contribute to society, ”says Najeeb.

Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and Hanan Refugee Relief Group bring third round of donations for Afghan refugees at Fort McCoy(Erin Sullivan WMTV)

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