Hochul welcomes Afghan refugees as Fort Hamilton army base demures 

Fort Hamilton. (Wikimedia Commons)

While Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that the state is prepared to welcome the arrival of Afghan nationals fleeing violence and instability spreading throughout the troubled nation, the U. S. Military and Department of Defense (DOD) deflected answering if the Fort Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn is being considered as a possible processing center for the refugees.

Following several media reports that Afghan refugees are currently being housed and processed at American Military bases in the United States, PoliticsNY put the question to Amanda Hay-Caroffino, spokesperson for the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton, the only remaining active military base in New York City’s confines.

“The Department of Defense recently approved a request for assistance from the State Department to provide temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the United States for vulnerable Afghans at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; Fort Bliss, Texas; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Fort Lee, Virginia,” Hay-Caroffino emailed back.

Hay-Caroffino directed all further questions to the U.S. Northern Command, the DOD’s lead combatant command for the Afghan pullout mission in the continental United States and is providing oversight in support of the Department of State. 

Several emails and calls to the commands media center were not returned.

Fort Hamilton is located near the foot of the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The sprawling complex oversees a housing area that includes six historic residences on Colonel’s Row, 70 modern townhouses, sixty older style high-rise apartments, and 150 new three and four-bedroom apartments. 

Currently, the base houses a total of 3,095 military personnel and their family as well as some civilians — including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

“The public advocate believes that we have a moral obligation to accept as many refugees as possible and that New York should be at the forefront of that effort — mobilizing our resources and spaces to provide aid,” said a Williams spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Hochul said the state’s Refugee Services and Office for New Americans are both ready to assist those seeking to resettle in New York and continue the state’s proud tradition of welcoming those who are fleeing persecution or war. 

“As the world watches the instability in Afghanistan unfold, New York is stepping up to once again serve as a beacon of hope and refuge,” said Hochul. “The richness of culture and community that refugees and immigrants bring to our state is beyond measure, and the message to the world in no uncertain terms is that our state is committed to helping those who seek shelter on our shores.”

New Yorkers seeking to support Afghans arriving in New York State can contact the Office for New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 for information on local providers and how they can assist. 

The Hotline is also available for any immigrant in need of confidential assistance and connection to support and services.