A majority of Americans across the political spectrum are on board with resettling Afghans who worked with the U.S. and others struggling to escape Taliban rule so long as they pass security checks, according to a new poll.
The survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 72% of Americans say they favor the U.S. granting refugee status to people who worked with the U.S. or Afghan governments during the war in Afghanistan — provided they pass security checks.
Patrick Raglow, a local Catholic Charities executive director in Oklahoma City, said he is fielding hundreds of community offers of help and support for the Afghan immigrants.
"I see this very much as a continuation of the mission of those brave 13 Americans who gave their lives, protecting and sheltering and bringing to safety these very people," Raglow said, invoking the suicide bombing at Kabul’s airport that killed 13 U.S. service members and 169 Afghans on Aug. 26. "It is a way to continue that mission."
Andrew Davis, a 62-year-old Republican and Army veteran in Galloway, Ohio, said he supported accepting former Afghan employees of the U.S. or Afghan governments and was open to doing the same for other Afghans who felt in danger from the Taliban. But he stressed the importance of security vetting for all Afghan refugees to screen out any security risks.
"It'd be dangerous for them to stay there, I think, if they helped us," Davis said. "If we can do that ... I do think we should take them in."
Bill Cronin, a 74-year-old retiree and Republican in the San Francisco Bay area, said he supported helping Afghan interpreters and others who went out of their way to aid American service members and civilians.
"Those people stuck their neck out knowing, or maybe not knowing, that they could be killed by the Taliban," Cronin said. "So why would you not want to take care of those people?"
In a time of sharp political divide, about three-quarters of both Republicans and Democrats support granting refugee status to Afghans who worked with the U.S. or Afghan governments. Overall, just 9% of Americans say they are opposed.
More favor than oppose the U.S. taking in other Afghans if they pass security checks, the survey showed. Still, fewer than half, 42%, support that category of refugees, while 26% are opposed. An additional 31% say they're neither in favor nor opposed.
More Democrats than Republicans support refugee status for others who fear living in the Taliban-ruled country, 57% to 27%. Twenty percent of Democrats are opposed, while 23% are neither in favor nor opposed. Among Republicans, 38% are opposed and 35% hold neither opinion.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,099 adults was conducted Sept. 23-27 using a sample drawn from NORC's probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.