Bacon's Office Tries to Help Afghans Flee Country, Increasingly Difficult
By Jack Williams , Managing Editor and Reporter Nebraska Public Media News
Oct. 26, 2021, 3 p.m. ·
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The man coordinating efforts to bring some Afghan refugees to Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District says it hasn’t been easy, with a very low success rate so far because of logistical and documentation issues.
Felix Ungerman is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Don Bacon and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan himself. He’s spent the past several months doing what he can to help Afghans with ties to Nebraska get out of the crumbling country. He said the biggest challenge has been helping people who don’t have documentation to prove who they are.
“We have numerous people connected to this district that are family members and people who have houses here, lives here, there kids should be in school here, no documentation and we can’t figure out how to get them out because of the documentation issues,” Ungerman said.
Ungerman’s comments came during a recent forum on the future of Afghanistan at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He said Congressman Bacon’s office has been able to help around 60 people get out of the country off of a list of around 1,000 requests related to Nebraska.
“There’s about six organizations we’ve been able to connect with, talk with, push our lists to and in fact now we’re at the point where we’re trying to work with a group that’s got a flight for the first time, they’re a new group, and we’re hoping we can get some people who are from our district in Nebraska out,” Ungerman said.
He said the State Department is dealing with difficult circumstances with a huge backlog of requests from Afghans who need help to get out of the country.
“Frankly, they are overwhelmed, there’s no doubt,” he said. “From the start, all the way through, they’ve dealt with changing circumstances. Everything is difficult. The people we are talking to genuinely are trying to help. They’re good Americans, they’re kind people, but they're struggling.”
It’s estimated close to 800 Afghan refugees could eventually end up in Nebraska.