An Oklahoma organization said Afghan refugees need more support.

An interim study was held at the state Capitol on Tuesday morning. Advocates said the federal and state government need to step in.

“Oklahoma was great in receiving us and in supporting us. We are really thankful of every Oklahoman,” said Feroz Bashari, an Afghan community member.

It was a message of thanks on Tuesday morning as Afghan refugees who resettled in Oklahoma spoke at an interim study held by state Sen. Carrie Hicks. Since northwest Oklahoma City served as host to some of the 1,800 Afghan refugees that came to Oklahoma two years ago, Hicks’ constituents noticed some fixes that could be made to make life easier for those who had to flee after the Taliban took over in 2021.

“Trying to figure out if there was a way to highlight what we’ve done really really well and acknowledge where we’ve fallen short, so we can really look for those long-term solutions so that it’s just a more prepared plan,” Hicks said.

Speakers included the Oklahoma Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR. They laid out what could be done to make conditions better for the families looking to start a new life in the U.S.

“And we think some commonplace policies at the state level could alleviate these concerns,” said Veronica Laizure, with CAIR Oklahoma.

These things include:

  • Better communication about finding a job, enrolling in school, and accessing healthcare
  • Ensuring housing that is found is both affordable and safe
  • Streamlining the process to provide refugees with official licenses and identification

With these recommendations now presented, it’s up to state and federal legislators to make changes.