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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The former Governor of Delaware and current White House Coordinator for Operation Allies, Jack Markell, visited Oklahoma for a day tour of learning about the state’s Afghan resettlement efforts.

Markell visited Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the only refugee settlement agency in the state.

The goal of Markell’s November 18 visit was to learn more about the best practices for Afghan refugees by state, city and community organizations.

“I’m grateful to Catholic Charities for their monumental work to welcome our Afghan allies as our neighbors and provide support as they start their new lives,” said Markell. “The community in Oklahoma City is approaching resettlement with the creativity and dedication to service that makes historic moments like this possible.”

So far, 347 Afghan refugees have arrived in Oklahoma City since September 22. It is expected that 50 families will be arriving per week through February.  

“Just imagine the lives that you are changing. Ten years from now these kids are going to be fully integrated into their American schools or they’ll be working, and they’re going to look back and they will know it will be because of your work that the American dream could be just as real to them as it was for generations and generations before us,” said Markell.

Markell started his day in Oklahoma City by visiting the Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum. During the visit, Patrick Raglow, executive director of Catholic Charities in Oklahoma City, among other resettlement leaders shared the meaning of the Oklahoma Standard.

Markell was then taken to an undisclosed hotel where the newest Afghan evacuees were staying temporarily. This gave Markell the opportunity to meet with one of the families who had been resettled by Catholic Charities and witness firsthand the cultural orientation and activities provided.

The remainder of Markell’s visit was with Catholic Charities to discuss housing solutions, a lunch with resettlement staff and a listening session with local and state stakeholders.

Some of the topics covered during those conversations include the need for permanent housing for refugees, welcoming efforts, employment, legal services, cultural challenges and refugee responses.

Later that afternoon, Markell met privately with a group of local veterans who had been deployed to Afghanistan to gauge their thoughts on how the integration back into a thriving society is being addressed.

Markell will continue traveling to cities nationwide over the next couple of weeks.