NEW BEDFORD — As Afghan refugees start coming in to Massachusetts, New Bedford will likely be placing a number of families in the city, according to Mayor Jon Mitchell.

"We've been working for several months to open up New Bedford more to refugees, and in particular Afghan refugees," he told WBSM's Phil Paleologos on Tuesday morning.

Mitchell said that the city is working with a "very reputable" nonprofit to place an as-yet unknown number of refugees here, although he did not say which organization.

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"We don't think we'll get large numbers, but we'll get some families," he noted. "It's hard to know exactly, but I think it could happen in the next few weeks."

The first refugee families reportedly arrived in Massachusetts over the weekend.

Eventually, the commonwealth expects to host around 1,000 people who evacuated Afghanistan during a massive airlift operation over the summer.

"If you or your family assisted American forces in Afghanistan and now are seeking refuge here in the United States, you're welcome in my city," Mitchell stated.

For those who put themselves out there to help U.S. soldiers, he noted, the least the government can do is "put a roof over their head, and help them get their kids in school, and square them away" so that they can "live a free life in America."

"I feel very strongly about that," he added.

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