Posted by Christopher Coen on June 18, 2013
Thieves broke in and burglarized the offices of Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center in Columbus last week, according to an article and video at 10TV:
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Workers discovered a shattered door and missing computers at the Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center on Sinclair Road.
According to the police report, workers said that the break-in happened Sunday night and caused hundreds of dollars in damage.
It was unknown if security cameras captured the crime. Read article at source here
Posted in Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) | Tagged: burglarized, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center, computers, Ohio, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 15, 2013
The US State Department is considering taking in Syrian refugees to help ease the massive displacement of the Syrian people due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the middle east created by the Syrian regime. The US ally Turkey has asked its western allies for help taking in Syrian refugees now in Turkey. Germany has agreed to take 5000 Syrians. Kirk Johnson, founder of the List Project, which has pushed for Iraqi resettlement, sees obstacles ahead to Syrians entering the US, such as finding support in Congress. An article in the Los Angeles Times looks at the subject:
WASHINGTON — Two years into a civil war that shows no signs of ending, the Obama administration is considering resettling refugees who have fled Syria, part of an international effort that could bring thousands of Syrians to American cities and towns.
A resettlement plan under discussion in Washington and other capitals is aimed at relieving pressure on Middle Eastern countries straining to support 1.6 million refugees, as well as assisting hard-hit Syrian families.
The State Department is “ready to consider the idea,” an official from the department said, if the administration receives a formal request from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the usual procedure.
The United States usually accepts about half the refugees that the U.N. agency proposes for resettlement. California has historically taken the largest share, but Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia are also popular destinations.
U.N. refugee officials, diplomats and nongovernmental relief groups plan to discuss possible resettlement schemes at a high-level meeting this week in Geneva. Germany already has committed to taking 5,000 people…
…Western officials try to discourage poor foreigners who are seeking a more comfortable life or business opportunities in the West. They say resettlement is only for those who can’t go home, and seek to dispel notions that an easy life awaits.
According to a State Department publication aimed at refugees, “Cars are not provided…. Most Americans value self-reliance and hard work. They expect newcomers to find jobs as soon as possible and to take care of themselves and their families.”
Another sensitive issue is who qualifies for resettlement. Western countries often prefer intact, well-educated families with familiar religious backgrounds.
But experts say 80% of the Syrian refugees are women and children, many with war-related injuries or psychological problems that could hamper finding work or going to school.
Kirk Johnson, founder of the List Project, which has pushed for Iraqi resettlement, said it may be difficult to sell Syrian resettlement to Congress. He said it would require an advocacy effort and sympathetic lawmakers, “and I don’t seen either of those necessary ingredients.”
Yet most refugee advocates predict that Americans will ultimately help the Syrians… Read more here
Posted in economic self-sufficiency, mental health, State Department, Syrian | Tagged: Congress, germany, kirk johnson, list project, refugees, resettlement, State Department, syrian, Turkey, UN | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 6, 2013
Iraqi refugees in Sacramento, California battling the symptoms of post-traumatic stress have found accessing mental health care services difficult. Under Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) people have to wait up to six months to see a doctor. When they finally get an appointment the question is whether the services are culturally and linguistically appropriate. An article in the Sacramento Bee has more:
Sacramento is now home to 2,700 Iraqi refugees, many of whom have brought the war with them.
Nearly all are battling the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, including insomnia (59 percent), depression (44 percent), headaches (41 percent) and fear (38 percent), according to a report released by the UC Davis Health System Clinical and Translational Science Center…
Because of their reluctance to discuss mental problems with counselors and their inability to navigate the U.S. health care system, most Iraqi refugees don’t get the help they need, said research program manager Linda Ziegahn…
… Most are getting really frustrated with the American health care system.”…
…The report, based on interviews with 34 local Iraqi refugees, was conducted with the help of Opening Doors, a refugee resettlement agency, and the Mesopotamia Organization, an Iraqi self-help agency started by Sarmed Ibrahim, an engineer from Iraq.
“I want to thank the U.S. for making us feel safe, and where our kids can get the best education in the world,” Ibrahim said. “But after at least 10 years of suffering, most of us need mental care. It takes 3-4 months to get an appointment with a psychiatrist covered by Medi-Cal.”
The lack of help with medical issues is affecting their ability to get jobs, Ibrahim said.
But there aren’t enough Medi-Cal doctors to go around, said Marissa Ramos, chief of the California Refugee Health Program.
Even in Sacramento County, to get in to see the doctor will take up to six months. If they can finally talk to a psychiatrist, many are afraid to.
“I do not like speaking about personal problems in public,” one refugee said. “Whoever sees a psychiatrist is considered ‘crazy’; that is why we are lagging behind … .”…
…Delphine Brody of the California Network of Mental Health Clients said that Sacramento County doesn’t have a program for victims of war and torture…
“These refugees are in great need of trauma-sensitive, culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health,” Brody said… Read more here
The comments section has a message from a local group called VIRTIS that psychological care available in many languages, although not in Arabic.
Posted in Iraqi, language, mental health, Opening Doors, PTSD, Sacramento | Tagged: alifornia Network of Mental Health Clients, Iraqi, mental health, Mesopotamia Organization, post-traumatic, PTSD, refugees, resettlement, Sacramento | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 29, 2013
A refugee family from the Central African republic were removed from an Atlanta-bound American Eagle flight two weeks ago due to their smell. The family landed in New York City from their long overseas flight, and for reasons unexplained, World Relief immediately placed them on the flight to Atlanta. It would make sense to place the refugees in a hotel overnight to rest and that is what often happens. It would also have given the refugees a chance to shower and wash up before continuing their long journey. Atlanta’s Channel 2 WSB-TV has a print article and video news story detailing what happened:
ATLANTA — A local woman is upset that a refugee family from Africa was kicked off a flight to Atlanta because of the way they smelled…
Once on board, passengers on American Eagle Flight 4657 sat for more than an hour before the family was escorted off the place because they smelled too badly.
“After complaints from other customers aboard the aircraft… We make these decisions with the comfort of our customers and crew members in mind, and always with careful consideration,” airline spokesman Matt Miller told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas via email…
A representative for the resettlement group World Relief told Thomas the family is from the Central African Republic and they came seeking asylum…
The family was booked on another flight for the following day and is now in metro Atlanta trying to adjust to their new life. Read more here
Posted in Atlanta, Central African Republic, cultural adjustment, NYC, World Relief | Tagged: American Eagle, Atlanta, Central African Republic, flight, LaGuardia, plane, refugees, resettlement, smell, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 21, 2013
Refugee resettlement has been greatly reduced in Manchester, New Hampshire since the mayor’s battle with the local resettlement agency and the State Department. Now, however, the International Institute will resettle about 200 refugees this fiscal year (through September), with half being placed in the nearby town of Nashua instead of Manchester. The mayor is still talking about taking a breather by the reduction in new refugee resettlement but he doesn’t seem to be doing anything to help refugees already resettled in Manchester, so how will this reduction help get every refugee employeed before the next refugees arrive, as he claims he wants? An Associated Press article has the story:
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — …While many Bhutanese have transitioned well to life in U.S. — and they are all better off than they were in refugee camps — many, especially those older than 40, are struggling, Niroula said.
“Bhutanese are facing lot of challenges, because they are jobless,” he said…
…In November 2011, Mayor Ted Gatsas, a Republican then newly elected to his second term, drew national attention after asking the State Department to stop resettling refugees to Manchester. In a recent interview, he said he still believes the city could benefit from break in their arrival.
“We’ve got refugees in this community that don’t know the language, don’t have a job, and what I’ve been saying is let us catch our breath. Let us get these people into working society, so they’re good examples of the city of Manchester,” he said. “You can’t do that by bringing 300 more refugees on top of that.”
Dr. Jacqueline Verville, director of the Holy Cross Family Resource Center, which provides English classes and other services, said her organization is far from being maxed out, adding that Holy Cross is only one of many groups providing similar services. She said she believed there should be no restrictions on new arrivals but acknowledged many immigrants do struggle…
…The Manchester task force collected figures in 2010 showing 85 percent of refugees became taxpayers within a year. That’s not indicative of full employment, as many refugees find short-term or seasonal work, but permanent positions are harder to come by…
…New refugees began arriving again last October, and [Carolyn Benedict-Drew, president and CEO of the International Institute of New England] said the institute will place close to 200 during the current fiscal year, which ends in September.
To take some of the pressure off Manchester, close to 50 will be resettled in nearby Nashua… Read more here
Posted in International Institute of New Hampshire, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Nepali Bhutanese, New Hampshire | Tagged: bhutanese, International Institute, manchester, Nashua, refugees, resettlement, Ted Gatsas | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 19, 2013
Tukwila, a suburb of Seattle is a hub of refugee resettlement in that metropolitan area. Safety for refugees is a major issue. An article in The Seattle Times discusses these issues, although only speaks to refugees who feel safe in the city. Perhaps all of those who didn’t feel safe moved out? The IRC claims it moved most of their refugee resettlement from Seattle to Tukwila ten years ago because Seattle was too expensive and unsafe. Apparently Tukwila has lower cost apartments, albeit with the same safety issues as Seattle?
…White, black and every shade in between is elbow-to-elbow, eating lunch [at the Tukwila public school]. Somali. Kenyan. Eritrean. Bosnian. Turkish. Korean. Vietnamese. Mexican. Russian. Burmese. Nepali. You need a world map to keep track.
The cultural mash-up is one of the more obvious signs of the global migration that has transformed this once sleepy Seattle suburb into an international city of the future…
…In Tukwila, 62 percent of the population is minority and more than 49 percent speak a language other than English at home, according to the 2010 census.
The New York Times named its school district the single most diverse in the country, with 71 percent minority students.
Tukwila’s diversity is a source of pride here. It’s also a source of challenges for the police, the growing school district and residents facing larger problems: nearly a quarter of the population lives in poverty, compared to 12 percent in Seattle, and Tukwila’s crime rate is the highest in King County…
…The city’s current ethnic makeup is due, in large part, to the efforts of refugee-resettlement agencies, especially the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit agency that helps people fleeing persecution and war.
The IRC’s Seattle office used to place most of its clients in Seattle. But about 10 years ago, Seattle became too expensive and too dangerous, says the agency’s executive director in Seattle, Bob Johnson. A case worker, who lived in Tukwila and knew an apartment manager there, suggested they look south.
Borka Markovic’-Paponjak was living in a refugee camp when the IRC relocated her and her family from Bosnia to Tukwila in April 2007.
“Tukwila was a scary place then,” she says. “There was prostitution, drug dealing, gang fights. Ten days after we arrived, a guy was killed in front of the coffee shop for 20 bucks.”
But Markovic’-Paponjak and her husband both got jobs. The kids thrived at school, and the other Bosnians in the complex formed a tight bond, watching after each other’s children and holding summertime pool parties.
“Now, I don’t have a speck of fear in me,” says Markovic’-Paponjak, who these days owns a home here and helps other refugees at the IRC. “Tukwila is warmer, nicer, willing to help,” she says. “
Each year, about 500 refugees are placed in Tukwila. Once on their feet, many move on, and their foods disappear from the Trading Post’s shelves…
…People attending [police] meetings as part of the city’s strategic-planning process repeatedly cited the city’s high crime rate as one of the most pressing problems… Read more here
Posted in dangerous neighborhoods, police, safety, Seattle | Tagged: crime, refugees, resettlement, safety, seattle, Tukwila | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 14, 2013
One lesbian woman told how the immigration judge commented that she did not look like a lesbian. Another was told she could not be a lesbian because she had two children. A gay man from East Africa claiming asylum in Canada was forced to shout through bulletproof glass that he was a homosexual, within earshot of the fellow countrymen he was trying to get away from. Many LGBTI refugees avoid approaching the U.N. refugee agency or NGOs for help out of fear of having to wait with other refugees. The presence of interpreters from their countries of origin is another reason they stay away. An article at the Thomson Reuters Foundation examines the issue:
Imagine a woman who has fled to Britain after suffering rape, torture, imprisonment and family abuse because she is in a same-sex relationship.
Maybe she comes from Jamaica, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, all of which discriminate and legislate against homosexuality.
What sort of questions do you think immigration officials and judges will ask her when she requests asylum?
How about: “Have you read Oscar Wilde?”
The assumption that if you are gay you must have read the homosexual Anglo-Irish playwright – regardless of your culture, language and age – is breathtakingly inappropriate.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Lesbian asylum seekers interviewed in recent research in Britain also said they were asked to justify why they chose to be gay when they knew it was illegal in their home country. They were asked about sexual positions, how many Gay Pride marches they attended and which gay clubs they went to.
One woman told how the immigration judge commented that she did not look like a lesbian while another was told she could not be a lesbian because she had two children.
Experts in Britain and Canada say decisions regarding someone’s claim to be lesbian or gay often appear to be based on whether they conform to Western stereotypes.
The examples above are outlined in the latest issue of Forced Migration Review (FMR), published this week, which focuses on the problems faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) refugees and asylum seekers.
Some 76 countries criminalise homosexual acts or what is termed gender-variant behaviour. In at least five of these countries the penalty can be death… Read more here
Posted in abuse, alienation-isolation, Canadian refugee resettlement pgrm, hate crimes, LGBT refugees, NGO's (Non-governmental organizations), religion, UN (United Nations) | Tagged: asylum, bisexual, gay, glbt, lesbian, lgbt, lgbti, NGO's, refugees, resettlement, UNHCR | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 11, 2013
Five suspects are wanted in the stabbing deaths of two ethnic Karenni men in an argument at a Phoenix, Arizona apartment complex on April 27th. The safety of refugees in many communities in the U.S. where our program resettled them has been a concern of ours for over ten years now. My question is this: if the Language Line is a known tool for communicating in hundreds of languages on short notice, and police today walk with cell phones, why isn’t that method being used in these incidents? Of course refugee resettlement agencies should also issue all refugee cases with a card that lists phone numbers to call in emergencies – including interpreters. Unfortunately many agencies don’t even bother to make sure that their caseworkers give refugees their business cards. An article at The Republic covers the incident:
Police are still searching for five suspects after two people who gathered to help a family mourn the loss of a loved one were stabbed to death at a Phoenix apartment complex Sunday morning, authorities said Monday.
Phoenix police received a 911 call just after midnight of someone being stabbed at an apartment at 2828 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix Police Department spokesman Sgt. Steve Martos said. Arriving officers found two men with stab wounds. Both died at the scene.
Witnesses said the people at the apartment were attending a “Nar Ye Nyi Hmut,” which is a Burmese gathering held before a funeral during which relatives and friends stay overnight and offer grief support to a family who recently lost a loved one.
Police suspect that three teenagers on their way to attend the gathering had an altercation with four male teenagers and one female teenager, police said. The teenagers going to the funeral were able to make it to the apartment and explained what happened. The other teens followed.
Two men at the funeral went outside to try to calm down the teenagers who followed the other teens home, police said. The teenagers stabbed the men to death.
Police consulted with translators to determine what happened because of the Burmese language barrier between police and the approximately 40 to 50 people who were inside the apartment, Martos said.
Police have not identified the victims yet.
The apartment complex largely is populated by people from various Asian countries, including Burma, Nepal and Iraq… Read more here
Additional information about the victims and the suspects is found in a Channel 3 report:
…Police have identified the victims as Ker Reh, 54 and Kay Reh, 24…
…With the assistance of translators, investigators learned that three teenagers between 15 and 16 years old were walking to the apartment complex to join friends and family to mourn the loss of a community member when they were confronted by five teenagers who engaged them in an altercation. Martos said the suspects were four Hispanic males and one Hispanic female.
The three teenagers ran to the apartment where 40 to 50 people were gathered and told two men what had occurred and that they were being chased by the suspects.
Martos said the two men stepped outside of the apartment to try to calm the suspects and prevent further altercation. The suspects then began to stab both men.
All five suspects fled the scene on foot.
Witnesses described the weapon as some type of long metal crowbar-like rod. Police have not confirmed the weapon.
Investigators are asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating the suspects. Anyone with information related to this crime is encouraged to call the Phoenix Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit at 602-262-6141 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS to remain anonymous. Read more here
Posted in crime, dangerous neighborhoods, housing, Karenni, language, men, Phoenix, police, safety, teenagers | Tagged: Burma, Burmese, Camelback Road, karenni, Kay Reh, Ker Reh, Myanmar, Phoenix, refugees, resettlement, stabbing | 3 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 9, 2013
Refugees from Myanmar who moved to Columbus Junction for jobs with Tyson Foods are the subject of an article in The Jamestown Sun. The small town has made efforts to accommodate the new immigrants, although some problems remain. A shortage of rental apartments has meant that some extended families cram into small, unclean apartments and live a “barracks-style lifestyle.” Two refugees have committed suicide and a third was found drowned in a river near the Tyson plant.
...All told, about 400 refugees have descended on [Columbus Junction], and more are arriving by the week to reunite with friends and relatives and work grueling jobs for Tyson. Like other waves of immigrants, they were drawn to this poor, sparsely populated region of southeastern Iowa by the promise of jobs, good schools and welcoming people…
…Tyson and other meatpacking companies have increasingly recruited non-Latino workers in recent years, including Burmese, Sudanese and others, said Mark Grey, director of the Iowa Center for Immigrant Leadership and Integration at University of Northern Iowa. Since a 2008 raid of a Postville, Iowa, slaughterhouse, where 389 immigrants were arrested, companies have become more careful to avoid hiring employees who may have entered the country illegally, he said….
…Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson denied the company was favoring refugees over others, saying the industry has long attracted immigrants for entry-level jobs that do not require experience or English skills. The makeup of its workforce shifts as new immigrant groups come to the U.S., he said…
…At a recent conference at the University of Iowa, Rick Rustad, a workplace chaplain at the Tyson plant in Waterloo, about 100 miles away, recalled serving as the plant’s “mobile recruit” for Burmese refugees. He drove a passenger bus to meet with Burmese who had settled in different parts of Illinois, where he offered jobs and brought 30 back to Iowa at a time…
…In Columbus Junction, Mickelson said, the first five Burmese workers were hired as part of a recruitment effort in Illinois and later encouraged friends and relatives to apply. Burmese started arriving from Indiana, Texas, Florida and other states where they say jobs were harder to come by…
…Two refugees have committed suicide and a third was found drowned in a river near the Tyson plant, said police Chief Donnie Orr. A shortage of mental health and substance abuse treatment is a problem, Ortiz said.
But refugees and city leaders agree the biggest challenge now is finding housing for the newcomers. City officials say there are hardly any available rental apartments, which go for about $450 a month for three bedrooms.
Some extended families cram into small, unclean apartments and live a “barracks-style lifestyle,” said city attorney Tim Wink, who owns three downtown buildings and rents apartments to two Chin families. The city is worried about safety and sanitation issues, including fire risks, and is drawing up its first-ever rental housing code… Read more here
Posted in Chin, Columbus Junction, housing, meatpacking industry, poultry production, schools, secondary migration, refugee, suicide | Tagged: Burma, Columbus Junction, employment, Iowa, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement, secondary migration, suicide, Tyson | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 4, 2013
The Mayor of Clarkston and a World Relief Atlanta leader were recently interviewed about their positions on refugee resettlement in Clarkston, a small municipality nestled against Atlanta. The Mayor is in favor of refugee resettlement yet supported the recent state request to cut resettlement by 50 percent. He claims the city needed time breath and that things are now ten times better, yet the article cites no examples. He also refers to the years that the resettlement agencies did not communicate with the City. The World Relief Atlanta leader claims, improbably, that after just an first 90 days of refugee resettlement aid, refugees pay rent just like he did. A blog at the Atlanta Journal Constitution has the interviews:
Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration — citing state and local taxpayer costs — has asked the feds to substantially cut the number of refugees sent here from war-torn regions. Today, the mayor of Clarkston says he understands such a request, noting the strain on resources the new arrivals have created in that DeKalb County city…
…[Emanuel Ransom] is the Clarkston mayor, the first African-American to hold the post. Even though he has asked the federal government to curb the number of foreigners sent to the community, his opinion of the newcomers has changed. He simply wants Clarkston to be better prepared, to have adequate resources to address an earlier influx of refugees before new ones arrive…
Q: Why did the number of arrivals have to be curtailed?
A: The government was not giving the refugees already here time to assimilate to the lifestyle. The refugees would come to the city asking for resources, and we had no revenues. I asked the government to slow it down, to cut the faucet off so we could fix the pipe. Once you do that, we can put the water on and let it flow. Things have gotten 10 times better. This has given us a chance to breathe.
Q: How is the city’s relationship with the resettlement agencies?
A: We were having a problem with the city not being in communication with the resettlement agencies. Now, we are swapping resources back and forth with each other. It makes for a better relationship. I want the refugees to stay here, open businesses in Clarkston and raise their families…
…Q: How has the slow-down affected Clarkston?
A: The infrastructure is stable. Cutting the flow is giving us a chance to breathe and concentrate on the refugees here, getting them to be self-sustaining people…
…Brian Bollinger is director of employment services for World Relief Atlanta.
…Refugees who arrive legally to the United States are facing strong but quiet opposition from some Georgia politicians…
…As a full-time resettlement professional, you can assume I would disagree. But the reasons why a “conservative, evangelical Christian” like me would do so may surprise you. You might think I’d make an argument about economics, something about the reality that refugees are a net gain for the economy of Georgia. In my experience, refugees don’t “steal” jobs or perpetuate wage depression. Refugees fill jobs that, typically, American citizens will not consistently do at any wage — jobs that have not been eliminated by automation and require supervisors who are locals.
You might think that as a conservative, I’d be perturbed by “out-of-control” spending to care for refugees in Georgia. Let’s tone down the vitriol: Pointing the finger at U.N. refugees as a significant cause of budgetary woes is a straw-man tactic. It overlooks everyday governmental mismanagement you can read about in any town newspaper.
The average refugee who receives general government assistance spends six months on support before finding employment, versus more than 4.5 years for the average Georgian…
…I know that at the several dozen complexes where our refugees are placed, not a single one is subsidized housing. After an initial 90 days of refugee resettlement aid, they pay rent just like I did there… Read more here
Posted in Atlanta, local officials, failure to notify, moratorium / restriction / reduction, World Relief | Tagged: Atlanta, Brian Bollinger, Clarkston, Emanuel Ransom, mayor, Pros and cons, reduction, refugees, resettlement, World Relief | Leave a Comment »