Archive for the ‘employment/jobs for refugees’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 7, 2013
Tyson Foods, Inc. Plans to employ about 250 Karen refugees from Myanmar (formerly Burma) at the company’s chicken processing complex in Wilkesboro, NC. The World Relief resettlement agency offices in High Point and Raleigh will be will be directing refugees to Tyson “to hire them in mass.” This seems to be a prescription for employer abuse when refugees are not treated as individuals with varying levels of employability and various employment area interests but are instead directed in mass to employers in distant and sometimes isolated locations. I note that the State Department resettlement contract documents signed by World Relief require individual assessments via individual case management. How will Tyson treat these people when it knows it can order up more large batches of refugee workers to replace them if it wishes?
A local church official says he was told that Tyson has carried out similar efforts in connection with its processing plant in Center, Texas, and with plants in Arkansas and Missouri. Tyson has also lured refugees in Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kentucky. Tyson has a troubling history in their treatment of Hmong refugees as well. An article in the Wilkes Journal Patriot has details about the plans for Wilkesboro:
Tyson Foods Inc. has announced plans to employ Burmese refugees at the company’s chicken processing complex in Wilkesboro.
Tyson officials shared the plans with about 30 local businesses, public schools, town and county government and law enforcement leaders and others during a meeting Tuesday at the Tyson technical services building on N.C. 268 West in Wilkesboro.
The [Karen] refugees are originally from Myanmar…
About 250 over two years
Worth Sparkman, Tyson public relations manager, said later that the company anticipated hiring about 250 refugees over the next two years to work at the processing complex in Wilkesboro…
People who attended the meeting, which wasn’t announced to the public or media, said Tyson officials indicated that it was hard to predict how many Burmese refugees might come to Wilkes to work at the Tyson complex and when.
Local officials comment
They said Tyson officials told them the newcomers would come as families and would contribute to the local economy with the money they spend here, including for housing. Refugees start paying U.S. and state taxes when they become employed.
People who attended the meeting said Tyson officials also talked about the responsibility of Christians to reach out and help the refugees and about the tradition of coming to America for a better life…
Dr. Marty Hemric, Wilkes school superintendent, attended the meeting and said state funding for the school system’s English as a second language program would increase if the number of students who don’t speak English increased.
Wilkes Sheriff Chris Shew also attended the meeting and said his biggest concern was finding interpreters for his department’s interactions with the refugees. “My concern is being able to bridge the communication gap,” he said.
Wilkes County Manager John Yates, Wilkes Department of Social Services Director Bill Sebastian, Wilkesboro Town Manager Ken Noland and other local officials are calling officials in communities elsewhere in the country who have experienced an influx of refugees for insight on what to expect here…
Involvement of churches
The Rev. Steve Gouge, director of missions of the Brushy Mountain Baptist Association, said Tyson officials contacted and met with him Thursday to discuss their interest in having the association’s churches interact with the refugees…
Gouge…said he was impressed with the plans shared by Tyson officials and said he was told the company carried out similar efforts in connection with its processing plant in Center, Texas, and with plants in Arkansas and Missouri…
Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride and other large food processors in the U.S. increasingly are turning to refugees from Myanmar, Sudan, Somalia and other countries for a more stable workforce. Tyson Foods processing complexes in Center, Texas; Shelbyville, Tenn., Waterloo, Iowa; and elsewhere each employ hundreds of resettled refugees.
World Relief assists
Tyson and other companies find many of these workers with assistance of nonprofit agencies that have contracts with the U.S. State Department to help refugees in the United States become resettled and self-sufficient…
“Our role as a resettlement agency is to help find homes for them (refugees), help them get their Social Security cards” and address other basic needs, said Andrew Timbie, manager of the World Relief office in High Point.
“We have a team working with employers to hire them in mass. Our goal is to get them employed and to set them up for self-sufficiency.”
Timbie said World Relief staff work with leaders of refugee populations to get the word out about available jobs, such as at the Tyson complex in Wilkesboro...Read more here
Posted in Karen, meatpacking industry, poultry production, Raleigh-Durham, secondary migration, refugee, Wilkesboro, World Relief | Tagged: High Point, Karen, meatpacking, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement, Secondary migrantion, Tyson, Wilkesboro, World Relief | 5 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 28, 2013
A study commissioned by refugee resettlement groups in Cleveland finds that refugees in Cleveland are more likely to hold a job than native-born residents, more likely to send their children to college, and less likely to be on public assistance – after two years in Cleveland only 8 percent of refugee households are still receiving public assistance. Refugees are also more likely than U.S.-born citizens to start a business and to create a business that succeeds. They founded at least 38 businesses here in the last decade. An article in the Plains Dealer explains:
…A new study reveals that refugees — the world’s most desperate immigrants — tend to do well in Cleveland and often out-achieve their U.S.-born neighbors over time.
Eye-opening revelations include the fact that refugees are more likely to hold a job than native-born residents and more likely to send their children to college. After two years in Cleveland, researchers found, only 8 percent of refugee households are still receiving public assistance, a level of self-sufficiency that beats national norms.
The study by Chmura Economics & Analytics, which is being released Monday, challenges stereotypes and may illuminate a new economic development strategy. Far from burdening a community, refugees tend to assimilate quickly, find work, buy houses and often start businesses.
“Basically, we are business minded. That’s our caste,” Nar Pradhan explained in a soft Himalayan accent. “Cleveland is perfect for us. All of our family is here. All of us are employed.”
The study’s lead author, economist Daniel Meges, cautions the refugee community is minute — numbering fewer than 20,000 people in Greater Cleveland — and its economic impact would not match, say, a major new manufacturing plant.
Still, he said, he was surprised by the scale of economic activity generated by a little-known class of immigrants and concluded a depopulated city would be wise to welcome more of them.
“For a rather small investment, most of which is federal dollars, you bring in people who quickly find jobs and spend money,” Meges said. “These are people who would not be coming here otherwise and who tend to stay. By and a large, our refugees do OK.”…
In Greater Cleveland, the resettlement efforts fall to Catholic Charities, the International Services Center and US Together, an affiliate of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Recently, those three groups teamed up with several nonprofit and faith-based groups to form the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland.
With a grant from the Cleveland Foundation, the collaborative commissioned a study of the refugee community to gauge how it was faring and to plan how they could best help.
Researchers limited their survey to the 4,500 refugees who arrived since 2000 and to Cuyahoga County, where most of them live. From the study emerged unexpected discoveries.
- Seventy-five percent of the county’s refugees over age 16 are employed, compared to 57 percent of the general population.
- Most refugee families have more than one wage earner, allowing a decent standard of living even at minimum wage jobs. Nearly 250 refugees have bought houses.
- Refugees are more likely than U.S.-born citizens to start a business and to create a business that succeeds. They founded at least 38 businesses here in the last decade.
- Refugee households and refuge businesses combined contributed $45 million to the regional economy in 2012.
“Our hunch was this was true,” said Brian Upton, the assistant director of Building Hope in the City, a church-based group that works with refugees and that is part of the collaborative. “They are not takers. They are not a drain on our community. They are very entrepreneurial.”…
Tom Mrosko…directs the Office of Migration and Refugee Services of Cleveland Catholic Charities, the region’s busiest resettlement agency.
Cleveland-area refugees may do better than most because they arrive in modest numbers, Mrosko said. In a region that attracts few immigrants overall, refugee families get more attention from the schools, clinics and libraries that help assimilate new Americans… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services (Cleveland), employment/jobs for refugees, International Services Center (Cleveland), US Together | Tagged: catholic charities, Cleveland, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, immigration, International Services Center, public assistance, refugees, resettlement, US Together | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 29, 2013
LIRS has come up with an interesting idea to help refugees move out of the entry-level jobs they often get stuck in after arriving in the US. A pilot program named the New American Mentoring Project pairs refugees with members of the community in the professions that the refugees want to enter but do not know how to go about doing so and/or do not have the connections necessary for doing so. An article in the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era explains the new program idea:
…[the] Lutheran Refugee Services’ New American Mentoring Project…aims to help refugees move beyond entry-level jobs by creating long-term career plans and deeper community connections…
LRS Lancaster program coordinator Ellen Willenbecher says most refugees are dependable and hard-working, but they face many employment barriers, including limited education, job experience, English and reading skills…
Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which partners with 23 local agencies nationwide, chose Lancaster to pilot the mentoring program. Once the program ends later this year, LIRS will assess the feasibility of expanding it elsewhere…
The project kicked off earlier this month, with pastors, a fire chief, a restaurant CEO and a counselor among the community members who volunteered to mentor refugees from Iraq, Burma, the Congo and Bhutan.
Some of the refugees — whose past occupations include school principal, musician, pastor and health clinic lab technician — have clear career goals, Willenbecher says. Others are not sure how to even begin exploring the opportunities available here.
“We have a young man from the Congo who wants to be a doctor. We have someone from Bhutan who wants to be an auto mechanic,” she says. “We have others who say they have no idea.”…
LRS offers follow-up career counseling, but many refugees are so focused on supporting their families, they are unable to think about the future, Willenbecher says.
“What we find is that folks aren’t moving beyond that first job,” she says. “We all had a first job. Nobody wants to stay in their first job.”
LRS hopes the mentoring program will help bridge that gap. Refugees and mentors meet weekly for at least three months and also attend group seminars.
Mentors will help refugees identify long-term career goals and steps needed to achieve them, such as English classes, more training or research into local opportunities…
Many refugees struggle with isolation, Armstrong says. The program also aims to build relationships that could help them secure jobs and integrate more fully into the community… Read more here
Posted in education, employment/jobs for refugees, Lancaster, Lutheran Refugee Services (Lancaster) | Tagged: career, employment, entry-level, jobs, Lancaster, LIRS, Mentor, Mentoring Project, refugees, resettlement | 1 Comment »
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 April 26, 2013
A volunteer who assists refugees in Knoxville contacted us to tell us what is happening in that city. He claims that refugees are being injured at work in alarming numbers and that Bridge Refugee Services has not taken sufficient action to protect them. He claims that agency even sided with the temporary employment agency that placed the refugees, and is more concerned about keeping up their employment placements than they are with the refugees’ welfare.
In his letter to us he said he helps New Americans in Knoxville who have been here for a few years but that lately he has received many complaints from the new refugees. The refugees he helps are those who were resettled by Bridge Refugee Services and in the last three years the refugees who have arrived in Knoxville have encountered low quality services, especially employment assistance. He said that the refugees are employed with companies that do not provide full-time benefits after 90 days of employment, and more importantly, do not provide a safe working environment. He claims that when refugees are injured at work that Bridge Refugee Services has not been advocating for them. An Ethiopian refugee broke his hand pushing a heavy cart at work and claimed the resettlement agency was not helpful. The writer said that in the last eight months four refugees have been injured at work and none of them received any compensation. When the refugees talk to Bridge staff they say that the agency sides with the employment agency that contracts with employers who want low wage workers. He says believes that Bridge is doing this because the agency wants to keep good relations with employers so that they may place more new refugees in jobs to show the State Department high employment figures. He said he tried to talk to Bridge staff but he feels that the employment manager has no respect for anyone. He believes that she is forcing refugees into work they can’t do or into work that is not safe for them.
If anyone knows more about this situation please contact us
These are some older post on this resettlement contractor – here and here).
Posted in Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, employment services, employment/jobs for refugees, Ethiopian, Knoxsville, safety, volunteers | Tagged: Bridge Refugee Services, employment, injuries, injury, Knoxville, resettlement, rtefugees, workplace | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 19, 2013
The State Department visit to Indiana this week highlights an important issue – our national refugee resettlement program requires refugees to find employment early to gain economic self-sufficiency, but that often comes at the cost of the refugees learning English. The resettlement program need to find solutions and carry them out so that the refugees can do both. An Indy Star article covering in part the State Department’s visit to Indianapolis indirectly addresses the issue:
About a year ago, executives at a fulfillment center on the Near Southside heard about Indianapolis’ growing Burmese population. The company, which had long prided itself on hiring minorities, decided to help out by offering some entry-level jobs to those in need of employment.
That gesture led to a visit Wednesday from a delegation of Washington and United Nations officials to the OSP Group site on Southeastern Avenue…
…In deference to Burmese employees, the company, which ships nearly 16 million packages a year from Indianapolis, uses signs with numbers and symbols instead of words so workers need not be literate in English to understand…
…Bartlett and Shelly Pitterman, a regional representative from the UNHCR, talked briefly with one of those employees, Mang Sin Cer, 29, who took a short break from sorting packages.
Speaking in her native Chin language through an interpreter, Cer softly and succinctly answered their questions. She has worked for the company for about a year. She came to the United States a few years ago through Malaysia.
Friends baby-sit her nearly 3-year-old while she works. Others give her a ride to work from her home on the Southside.
As for the job? Sometimes she gets tired, but “everything is all right,” Cer said through the translator.
Then, Bartlett asked whether she was learning any English.
“A little bit,” Cer said.
When Bartlett heard that the company did not have a program to help employees learn English, he suggested, “You should think about one.”… Read more here
Posted in economic self-sufficiency, employment/jobs for refugees, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Indianapolis, language, Office of Admissions, UN (United Nations) | Tagged: Burma, economic self sufficiency, English, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Indianapolis, Larry Bartlett, Myanmar, OSP Group, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 27, 2013
New York State is opening a statewide office that will focus on refugees and other immigrants – the Office for New Americans. The office will focus on basic services new immigrants need and will also include assistance for starting their own businesses. An article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle explains:
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday an Office for New Americans, the first statewide office to focus on the state’s immigrants.
The office will include 27 neighborhood-based opportunity centers to help immigrants learn English, prepare for citizenship and enter the workforce, particularly to start their own businesses. They will be housed at community-based offices, including in Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Ithaca and White Plains.
“By establishing the Office for New Americans, we are helping our state live up to the promise of the Lady in our Harbor and ensure that New York remains a land of opportunity for all,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Immigration to New York from foreign countries reached 1.2 million people in the 1990s, but dropped to 895,150 new immigrants between 2000 and 2010, a report in 2011 from the Empire Center for New York State Policy found. As of 2010, New York’s foreign-born population was about 21 percent of the total 19.4 million people, the report said. Only California had more immigrants, at 27 percent of its population… Read more here
Posted in economic self-sufficiency, employment/jobs for refugees, Rochester | Tagged: government office, New York, Office for New Americans, refugees | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 16, 2013
Ephraim Assefa arrived in Chicago as an Ethiopian refugee almost eight years ago. Today he is the one helping refugees adapt to their new life in the United States, working as the case manager at the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago.
The Ethiopian association is one of the refugee resettlement agencies in Illinois, which are struggling under a triple burden as the number of refugees steadily climbs: large cuts in federal funding, a greater range of native languages among refugees and the recession
“There are a lot of challenges,” Assefa said. “In terms of communications, refugees have a language barrier and secondly, because of a high level of education or the economic situation, getting employment is currently a challenge.”
Illinois has received about 23,220 refugees from 66 countries since 2000, and the flow has steadily increased since 2006, according to data of refugee arrivals in Illinois from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement… Read more here
The article talks about refugee resettlement agencies “struggling under a triple burden as the number of refugees steadily climbs: large cuts in federal funding, a greater range of native languages among refugees and the recession.” What large cuts – the cuts that may occur if Congress doesn’t address required spending cuts? That’s an if not a current fact.
While its true that refugees are speaking a greater range of languages now, that’s primarily the case for refugees from Africa and Burma/Myanmar. A caption for one of the article’s photos indicates that, “In fiscal year 2012, the top three countries of origin for refugees were Bhutan, Burma and Iraq, and these are expected to be the top three in fiscal year 2013 in the U.S and in Illinois.” Yet, Iraq and Bhutan produced refugees who mostly speak a single language. Arabic in the case of the Iraqis and Nepali in the case of the Nepali-Bhutanese. I think our refugee program got used to the large number of refugees that came from the former Soviet Union in the 1990′s, in which case there was not as much language variation, Russian being the language most of them were fluent in.
Illinois’ state refugee director Edwin Silverman claims that “the subsidies resettlement agencies provide refugees is the only financial resource for those who can’t find work. The recession means those who are looking for a job rely on these subsidies for a longer period than in the past, Silverman said.” Well no. The refugee resettlement grants derive from the US federal government and funds delineated directly for the refugees are merely passed through the resettlement agencies. Refugees also qualify for all public assistance – therefore the refugee resettlement grants are not the only financial resource.
Silverman also claims that, “in addition to providing resettlement service, the resettlement agencies have had to be in a constant process of fund-raising from the private sector, to assure that refugees can pay their rent and don’t go homeless.” I guess my question is why weren’t the resettlement agencies always doing that? There are many more needs that refugees have then just those that the federal government provides for financially with the seed money they gave to resettlement agencies. In the case of the national refugee resettlement agencies they are still almost completely subsidized by the US government.
Posted in Boise, Chicago, employment/jobs for refugees, Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, funding, Illinois, IRC, language, professionals, RefugeeONE (formerly, Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Ministries), World Relief | Tagged: Chicago, Edwin Silverman, employment, funding, RefugeeOne, refugees, resettlement, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 6, 2012
Using a FOIA request I just found another government inspection report for the International Center in Bowling Green. Refugees have reported problems with this agency and a Matching Grant program inspection report uncovered more problems.
According to this December 2011 ORR inspection report a refugee couple from Myanmar who had arrived in Bowling Green two months earlier said that they had not received any job referral services or referral to other training. Their orientation – or lack of orientation – left them with no information on how to open a bank account, how to use medical insurance and other orientation issues. Another family from Myanmar reported receiving limited employment assistance from the International Center as well. The family also reported that they were unable to read letters sent from the school – indicating a lack of help with translation.
Tyson Food Company has hired refugees for jobs that start at an hourly rate of $9.45/hr. Refugees spend 14 hours a day in shift time, long-distance transportation and waiting for transportation after their shifts. Tyson reports that there is rarely follow-up from the International Center.
A stakeholders meeting revealed a “major communication gap” between the International Center and the local Owensboro health department and school district. The health department said that this resulted in arriving refugees only receiving a standard physical examination and not the full refugee health screening. Both the health department and the school district reported that the International Center had not given adequate warning of refugees arriving in the community. Both of these institutions, as well as stakeholders in Bowling Green, expressed surprise that the resettlement program is an eight month program with up to five years of services, apparently having been told that the program was a 90 day process (they apparently get the same standard line that the resettlement agencies give to the media).
Stakeholders in Bowling Green pointed out that the refugees were not fully utilizing mainstream programs such as Head Start and senior programs which offer transportation and meals for seniors. The local Chamber of Congress had to tell the International Center’s board to reach out to the community.
At a meeting with refugees in Bowling Green the refugees reported poor quality interpretation services at the International Center. They mentioned that transportation in Bowling Green is almost impossible by bus. They reported that the International Center strongly encouraged them to take jobs at Tyson and Perdue. Perdue is not a good place to work – the pay is low and there is no recourse to the treatment the refugees received there. The company gave terminations without cause and without due process.
The ORR monitoring team visit also revealed that the Kentucky Office for Refugees, under state refugee coordinator Becky Jordan, was not conducting adequate consultation in Owensboro or Bowling Green. ORR had to recommend that the Kentucky Office for Refugees provide the International Center with technical assistance for coordination with service providers that work with refugees.
Another recommendation was to help refugees find work locally to avoid the four-hour commutes and be able to spend more time with family, as well as be able to care for sick children if both parents are commuting to jobs at Tyson or Perdue. It’s not clear that the International Center has done anything to respond to this recommendation since the City of Bowling Green is now having to make its own effort to help refugees with finding local jobs (see today’s article at Bowling Green Daily News).
By the way, in the curious arrangement of contractors and government oversight agencies in the US refugee resettlement program, Becky Jordan is not only the Executive Director of Catholic Charities Refugee Services in Louisville, a refugee resettlement private contractor, and Kentucky’s state refugee coordinator, she is also part of ORR’s site visit teams that inspect other refugee resettlement contractors. For example, Ms. Jordan was part of ORR site visit team that inspected Louisiana’s refugee resettlement program in February 2011. Therefore, sometimes Ms. Jordan is inspecting her colleagues at resettlement contractors in other states and some day maybe one of them will be inspecting her agency.
Posted in Bowling Green, Burma/Myanmar, community/cultural orientation, employment abuses, employment services, International Center in Bowling Green (Western Kentucky Refugee Mutual Assistance Association), language interpretation/translation, lack of, late health screenings, local officials, failure to notify, meatpacking industry, ORR, public/private partnership, transportation, Wilson-Fish Program | Tagged: Becky Jordan, Bowling Green, International Center, Kentucky, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, Perdue, refugees, resettlement, Tyson | 2 Comments »