The U.S. State Department is warning refugees from Afghanistan that certain areas of America may be too expensive to resettle.

The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs tells Afghans and Iraqis who are coming to the U.S. on special immigrant visas that they have two options when they come to the states. They can either let a resettlement agency find a place for them based “on biographical information about you and your family, as well as considering the need for a reasonable cost of living, housing availability, employment opportunities, and strong resettlement services and support.” Or, if they prefer, the immigrant can name someone they know whom they would like to live near.

If the immigrant goes with the second option, the State Department warns that they should “be aware of the cost of living and housing availability” in the area where there friend or family member lives.

“Please be aware that the cost of living and the availability of housing can vary significantly in different locations across the United States. The Washington, DC metro area including northern Virginia and some cities in California are very expensive places to live, and it can be difficult to find reasonable housing and employment. Any resettlement benefits you receive may not comfortably cover the cost of living in these areas. Unless you have close relatives or friends in these areas who are able to provide financial support and housing until you find employment that covers your living expenses, it is best to allow a resettlement agency to choose a suitable location for you,” the Bureau says on its website.

NBC-affiliate WMTV provided a list of 19 cities the State Department recommended for Afghan and Iraqi immigrants, all with sprawling metropolitan areas. Those cities are:

  • Phoenix
  • Denver
  • Jacksonville
  • Atlanta
  • Chicago
  • Baltimore
  • St. Louis
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • Northern New Jersey (to include Elizabethland Highland Park)
  • Las Vegas
  • Buffalo
  • Cleveland
  • Portland
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Austin
  • Dallas-Fort Worth
  • Houston
  • Salt Lake City

Some might question why high-crime cities like Baltimore, Chicago, or St. Louis were on the list or why crime didn’t seem to factor into the State Department’s suggestions for immigrants.

The Center Square reported that California was left off the list even though Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) welcomed refugees.

“We’re a state of refuge,” Newsom said in mid-August just after the U.S. announced it would resettle Afghan refugees in the U.S. “I’m proud of the fact that, over the last decade, California’s taken in more refugees than any other state in America, and I’m proud of the fact a disproportionate number of Afghani refugees are here in Northern California, not just here in the south, but also up in Sacramento County.”

The outlet added that California’s cost of living would likely be too high for refugees, noting that refugees “receive a $1,100 stipend for three months after arriving in the country,” yet the median rent in Fremont, California is more than $2,400 a month. For comparison, the average cost of rent in Sacramento, California is about $1,600, according to RENTCafe.

The Center Square added that “California is home to an estimated 45% of the nation’s Afghan population.”

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