Archive for the ‘employment/jobs for refugees’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 2, 2015
It’s been three years since word of the last passenger van rollover crash involving refugees. In October 2012 there was a van crash outside Jacksonville, Florida. In that case a car driving the wrong way on Interstate 10 in Baker County struck a van carrying refugees resettled by World Relief who were on the return leg of a 190-mile round-trip to jobs at a chicken processing plant; two refugees were killed and seven injured. Last Friday, almost three years to the day, 17 refugee workers resettled by World Relief in Jacksonville, and traveling in a passenger van to their jobs at the Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant in Suwannee County, were involved in another crash that overturned the vehicle, ejecting multiple unsecured passengers. The 2006 Ford E-350 van, carrying 17, is designed to carry at most 15 passengers. There has been a series of passenger van rollover accidents involving refugees. One man has since 2008 advised groups to get rid of all 12-passenger and 15-passenger vans, and replace them with 7-passenger mini vans or school buses, which have a much lower rollover propensity at higher occupant loads. Articles and video news reports about this recent rollover are found at Action News Jax:
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. — Thirteen people are in the hospital after a three-vehicle crash in Columbia County on Friday afternoon. Two of those people are in critical condition.
The crash backed up Interstate 75 northbound…
The Florida Highway Patrol said Pah Kyar was driving a van that was carrying at least 17 foreign workers to their jobs at the Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant in Suwannee County.
According to an FHP report, Kyar was traveling northbound in the center lane of I-75. A Ford F350 truck was in front of a Toyota 4-Runner that were both traveling in the inside lane also heading northbound. FHP says Kyar slowed rapidly in the van and attempted to move to the center median….the 4-Runner was unable to avoid Kyar’s rapid deceleration and lane change. The front end of the 4-Runner struck the rear of the van driven by Kyar sending the van into the median. The van overturned and multiple unsecured passengers were ejected, the report says. Kyar was cited for an improper lane change and was not injured in the crash.
“Due to the fact that there were ejections and it sounds like there was multiple people in the vehicle – upwards to possibly 17 – we’re thinking obviously that there were many not wearing seatbelts,” said FHP Sgt. Tracy Pace.
Action News Jax checked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website and found the 2006 Ford E-350 driven by Kyar is designed to carry a maximum of 15 passengers.
Pace said the workers are from Myanmar and Nepal.
Ten people in the van were driven to the hospital. Three more were airlifted… Read more here
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. — The Wah family is just one of the families recovering from a crash that happened on Interstate 75 in Columbia County on Friday.
The Florida Highway Patrol said 17 people were in the van when it crashed with another vehicle and a tow truck.
World Relief in Jacksonville said those in the van were all refugees and were headed to work at Pilgrim’s Pride…
Pilgrim’s Pride said the van that was involved in the crash was not theirs. Koirala said the van is what the refugees personally used to carpool to work.
World Relief said there was a fatal crash back in 2012 when refugees were returning home from work at Pilgrim’s Pride… Read more here
Posted in Burma/Myanmar, Jacksonville, meatpacking industry, Nepali Bhutanese, passenger van roll-over, poultry production, World Relief | Tagged: Columbia County, immigration, Jacksonville, Myanmar, passanger van, Pilgrim's Pride, refugees, resettlement, Suwannee County | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 15, 2015
Vermont has an older, declining population and the 4th lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. As a result, employers in the state find themselves starved for workers. With more jobs than workers, Vermont workers are avoiding low-paying manufacturing work involving repetitive, tedious work. These are the jobs some people claim that refugees are “stealing.” Refugees resettled to the state are helping to keep many businesses running. An article at Public Radio International tells more:
…[The Koffee Kup Bakery] produces 480,000 doughnuts a day at its bakery. Most of the people responsible for baking and packaging all those donughts are refugees, largely from Bhutan and Nepal.
Making doughnuts — seasonal pumpkin ones this time of year — is repetitive, tedious work. Once they’re cool, doughnuts stream down a conveyor belt where workers quickly pluck off six and box them up. Starting pay here is $14 an hour, plus benefits, which is at the high end for lower skilled workers.
“Without the refugee workforce, we would not have been able to succeed at the level we’ve been able to succeed,” says human resources manager Judy Schraven.
She says her refugee employees have been instrumental in growing the company’s revenues 30 percent annually for the past three years. She says if she posts an ad looking for employees, people don’t answer.
“It is actually almost impossible to find non-refugee workers that are willing to work in the manufacturing environments.”…
Vermont has an older, declining population and the state has the 4th lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. So, many local companies are tapping into the refugee labor pool. To do that, they turn to Eric Duffy, an employment counselor with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program.
“The demand is much higher than we can supply at this time. Almost on a daily basis we’re getting phone calls from new people trying to work with us,” says Duffy… Read more here
Posted in employment/jobs for refugees, Nepali Bhutanese | Tagged: Bhutan, employment, immigration, jobs, Nepali, refugees, resettlement, Vermont | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 1, 2015
A recent newspaper article from Iowa finally gives the most complete explanation for the high rate of suicide among Bhutanese refugees (Lhotshampa). These refugees have the highest suicide rate in the country (including refugees and every other group in the US), with 20 self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people (this blog began addressing this issue five years ago, here-1, here-2, here-3, and here-4). Now, Parangkush Subedi, a health policy analyst from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), explains that much of this goes beyond past traumatic experiences, language, isolation, the great difficulty of adjusting to a new culture, and trying to find and maintain employment. Subedi says that the Bhutanese refugees are also deeply influenced by their culture. They believe they must also fight evil spirits, satisfy the lurking souls of the ancestors, and contend with ancient Hindu or Buddhist beliefs about fate — preordained karma. This belief tells them that their problems are a form of punishment; creating a heavy burden of guilt and hopelessness. All these factors combined lead to a large percentage of this refugee group having undiagnosed mental illnesses, chiefly severe depression. To address this issue Subedi urges Bhutanese refugee community members to set aside the stigma, talk about it and ask for help from a doctor, refugee coordinator, teacher or suicide hotline. Subedi asks that the larger Bhutanese refugee community increase its outreach to community members, and that community members listen without judging. He also recommends music, yoga, dance activities, and most importantly, sharing stories of hope so refugees who are struggling are aware that others in their position have succeeded. The article is found in the Des Moines Register:
Sorrow can feel overwhelming if you’ve lost someone, can’t find a job or pay your bills. But imagine also being uprooted from all that’s familiar, not speaking the language or understanding the customs, and being home-bound. Then, to round out the challenges, you have to fight evil spirits, satisfy the lurking souls of the ancestors, and contend with preordained karma…
…the U.N. High Commission for Refugees in 2007 began relocating [Bhutanese refugees] on a permanent basis. America has taken in 75,000 Bhutanese refugees since then. But with 20 self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people,they have the highest suicide rate in the country.
So suicide prevention commanded center stage at a national gathering in West Des Moines over the weekend of the Association of Bhutanese in America. A health policy analyst from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) urged community members to set aside the stigma, talk about it and ask for help.
More than one in five Bhutanese refugees nationwide is depressed, but according to Parangkush Subedi of ORR, they may not know what that means. Some develop physical symptoms, like panic attacks, stress or gastrointestinal disorders. But many are [also] deeply influenced by ancient Hindu or Buddhist beliefs about fate, and think that if they can’t find a job or make the rent, it’s a form of punishment. Add in traumatic life circumstances and, Subedi told the gathering in Nepali, “They feel they have no alternative to suicide.”…
Depression is the most common mental illness in America, affecting more than one in four adults. Certain triggering factors like job loss or family conflict can bring it on in most of us. And people of any background may abuse substances in response. But refugees have also been separated from the extended family networks they leaned on, and from their places of worship. Less able to navigate society than even their school-age children, parents see their roles shifting from heads of household to burdens. They feel shame and stigma. Their children, increasingly integrated into this new society, start to pull away. Other refugee populations have had similar experiences, but Subedi said the Bhutanese are particularly emotional, and many experienced trauma in the refugee camps. Those who suffered gender-based violence are especially vulnerable…
…in the end we’re all looking for the same basic things: Meaning, connectedness, a way to express ourselves. Forging community may be the best antidote to sorrow… Read more here
Posted in community/cultural orientation, cultural adjustment, employment/jobs for refugees, language, mental health, Nepali Bhutanese, ORR | Tagged: bhutanese, immigration, karma, Lhotshampa, mental health, refugees, resettlement, suicide | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on February 1, 2015
A recent newspaper article explores the plight of refugees placed for resettlement in Tucson, Arizona. It seems that the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is placing refugee professionals such as mechanical engineers and doctors in entry-level jobs such as dish washing. While I don’t wish to be cynical I do wish to have some healthy skepticism here. Are there really no jobs in Tucson, even lower level ones, in which employers are looking for people with engineering or medical knowledge? It seems that the IRC has grown accustomed to using the least effort in placing refugees in jobs, without taking advantage of other options. The state of Idaho created a program to help these refugees, and help Idaho, rather than waste these professionals’ knowledge and experience. The article also discusses a case in which a refugee man was riding his bike home from work at 2 a.m. when a group of men in a pickup truck taunted him and ran him off the road. The entire side of his body was torn up. The IRC relocated him from his home for fear of persecution. An article in The Arizona Daily Wildcat explains:
…Caitlin Reinhard, senior employment specialist for the International Rescue Committee, in Tucson [spoke] about the issues refugees face in the community. Regardless of professional and educational background, the first job that many refugees obtain are minimum wage, entry-level jobs. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a mechanical engineer to be placed in Tucson and work as a dishwasher.
Reinhard emphasized the reluctance of employers to hire overqualified employees. For example, a refugee who was a doctor in their home country would have more trouble finding employment than a refugee with a grade-school level of education…
In conjunction with employment issues…Tucson refugees face prejudice and racism from the community in which they are working to become members. Reinhard spoke of a client who worked the night shift at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Golf Resort and Spa. On his way home from work, the man rode his bike to the intersection of Alvernon Way and Grant Road at 2 a.m. when a group of men in a pickup truck taunted him and ran him off the road. The entire side of his body was torn up.
“We were more outraged than he was,” Reinhard said.
The man was relocated from his home for fear of persecution. He did not harbor negative feelings toward Americans. However, because of our cultural biases, our community threatened his safety… Read more here
Posted in abuse, Arizona, employment/jobs for refugees, hate crimes, IRC, professionals, safety | Tagged: Arizona, attack, employment, International Rescue Committee, IRC, jobs, professionals, refugees, resettlement, Tucson | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on January 7, 2015
There are some online resources that look useful for helping refugees with employment issues, poverty and education. The Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP) features different resources aimed at improving services to low-income youth and adults:
In July 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)—passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress—was signed into law by President Obama. WIOA is the first update to the nation’s core workforce training programs since the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) 16 years ago. But a lot has changed since 1998—and our workforce system hasn’t kept up. Low-income, lower-skilled workers face more barriers than ever to securing an education and getting a good job.
CLASP features different resources aimed at improving services to low-income youth and adults under the WIOA. In addition, they highlight promising state and local strategies and models that align WIOA’s goals and help create pathways to postsecondary and economic success for low-skilled workers, youth, and adults… (Read more here)
Posted in economic self-sufficiency, employment services, employment/jobs for refugees, teenagers | Tagged: adults, assistance, employment, immigration, low-income, refugees, resettlement, youth | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 23, 2014
Iowa’s 6000 refugees from Myanmar are struggling on. The U.S. Refugee resettlement program still hasn’t figured out how to adequately assist refugees who move from their original resettlement location to other geographical locations for jobs or to be near family (secondary migration). This, even though large numbers of refugees have relocated in search of jobs since the 2008 economic recession. As a result, refugees have committed suicide, parents have lost custody of their children, children have died and refugees have been horribly maimed in meat-packing plant jobs – all due to the lack of support and assistance. An article in the Des Moines Register explains the situation in Iowa:
On the Monday after standard time went into effect, Lee Mo’s children missed school. The Burmese refugee family knew the American ritual of moving clocks forward and back, but they didn’t know on which dates that happened, so the school bus left without them.
Even if she had known the date, Mo couldn’t read a calendar. For much of her five years here, she has had to estimate time based on the position of the sun. She doesn’t know her age. She can’t make a phone call. Like about half of the people in Iowa who speak her native Karenni, she can’t read in any language…
Since 2006, refugees from Burma have been turning up in Iowa, becoming its largest incoming refugee group.
There are an estimated 6,000 refugees from Burma who are here…
It’s not just the inability of parents to communicate with teachers, or pick kids up or help them study. It’s someone being prematurely cut off food stamps because the paperwork wasn’t done due to language barriers. It’s the child who missed two years of schooling because the mother didn’t know to enroll her. The man who couldn’t read his eviction notice until a week before he had to move with the 14 people sharing his one-bedroom apartment. It’s the untouched FIP benefits debit card loaded with $900 that someone didn’t know what to do with, even as she fell behind on rent.
“We have people getting surgery, but they don’t know what surgery they’re getting,” said Ohr. One woman lost seven fingers in meat-packing accidents, not understanding the safety training. A newborn died after being kept waiting in the emergency room. People have lost parental rights for lack of “cultural awareness” or an attorney who spoke their language.
“It’s a crushing of the spirit,” said Ohr.
In 2012, just a year after their families moved to Iowa, three Karenni-speaking children drowned in the Iowa River at Marshalltown. The mother of two was so distraught she tried to jump out of her apartment window.
Mo’s sister was in the hospital recently recovering from a suicide attempt. Alone, depressed and unable to find work, she stabbed herself in the stomach with a knife. Depression is widespread…
Paw Moo Htoo has been in America seven months with her husband and six children… She is withdrawn and expressionless.
“I don’t know how to go to the store, to doctor’s appointments, to my children’s school,” she said through an interpreter. She can watch TV only if one of her kids turns it on. “I struggle with so much…because of the language barriers, I can’t communicate with anyone.”
Htoo says her case worker only showed her how to turn on the lights and oven, but said nothing about enrolling her kids in school. So at first, they didn’t go. Money is tight. Her husband earns $1,200 a month at a Marshalltown meat-packing job, working 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. He pays $160 to be in a carpool and $740 for the 3-bedroom apartment they are required to have. And they’re paying $290 a month to reimburse the cost of their $8,000 airfare here… Read more here
Posted in Burma/Myanmar, children, drowning, Iowa, Marshalltown, meatpacking industry, mental health, neglect, secondary migration, refugee, taken away from refugee parents | Tagged: Burma, immigration, Iowa, Marshalltown, meat packing, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement, secondary migration | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 16, 2014
The USCRI (U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants) has announced that its local refugee resettlement office will not close after all when its federal grant runs out. The leadership has instead chosen to keep the office open on a part-time basis. About 1,200 Burmese refugees – attracted to the area by meatpacking jobs – who now make Waterloo their home will have ongoing assistance with interpretation/translation, tax preparation and other needs. An article at KCRG explains:
WATERLOO, Iowa – …
…On Wednesday night, volunteers worked with a handful of newer residents in Waterloo who have escaped persecution in Myanmar… At least 1,200 Burmese refugees now call Waterloo home…
In late February, [Ann Grove, lead case manager of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants office in Waterloo] said the federal funding for the USCRI office to help Burmese refugees in Black Hawk County was running out. Yet, on Tuesday, the office announced the USCRI’s leadership has chosen to keep the office open on a part-time basis.
“It gives us an opportunity to continue providing for the immediate needs of clients who are in town,” said Grove.
With the federal grant now expired, the office may have to depend on the continued involvement of volunteers… Read more here
Posted in Burma/Myanmar, funding, meatpacking industry, USCRI | Tagged: Burmese, funding, immigration, meat packing, meatpacking, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, USCRI, Waterloo | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on February 23, 2014
Last fall the State Department restricted new refugee placements to Amarillo in fiscal year 2014 to family reunion cases after local government agencies reported being overloaded with newly resettled refugees and secondary migrants coming from other resettlement sites. Congressman Mac Thornberry brought State Department refugee resettlement office officials to Amarillo to meet with community leaders. Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle and Refugee Services of Texas are the local area resettlement agencies. They were asked three years ago to cut the number of resettled refugees (but apparently did not do so). Local government agencies complained that the schools were unable to handle the load of new refugee children and that the City’s 911 emergency phone system was struggling to deal with the many languages spoken. Refugees – largely from Myanmar (Burma), but also from Iraq and Iran – have been migrating to the city for the $14/hour meatpacking plant jobs, as well as to live near relatives. That “secondary migration” apparently continues, with the State Department only being able to cut the number of directly resettled refugees. An article in the Texas Tribune covers the story:
More international refugees were resettled in Texas in 2012 than in any other state, according to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. And one of the leading destinations is Amarillo, where members of Mr. Thawng’s church and other newcomers from places like Myanmar and Iraq often work in meatpacking plants.
Now local officials are worried that Amarillo’s refugee population is straining the city’s ability to respond to 911 callers who speak numerous languages and to help children learn English and adapt to a new culture.
“We’ve raised some red flags and said this isn’t good for some entities in the city or for the refugees themselves,” said Mayor Paul Harpole.
Amarillo, the state’s 14th largest city, with 195,000 residents, receives a higher ratio of new refugees to the existing population than any other Texas city, according to 2007-12 State Department data from Representative Mac Thornberry, Republican of Clarendon. And the only Texas cities that receive a larger number of refugees than Amarillo (which received 480 in 2012) are also the state’s largest: Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.
But those numbers show only a refugee’s initial placement and do not account for secondary migration, Mr. Thornberry said. Many refugees who initially settle elsewhere relocate to Amarillo for jobs or to join family members.
The State Department decides how many refugees are resettled in an area, and states review those recommendations. Last fall, the department, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and refugee placement organizations agreed that for 2014, placements in Amarillo should be limited to family reunifications, Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the commission, said.
“We cannot keep going at the rate we’ve been going,” Mr. Thornberry said… Read more here
An article at FOX KAMR has more:
…Over the last five calendar years, more than 2,700 refugees have resettled in Amarillo. That represents roughly 1.3% of our current population…
Right now, the bulk of refugees coming to Amarillo are from Burma, followed by Iraq and Iran.
Refugees will always be welcome but, right now, the numbers are growing too quickly. Putting too many in one place and putting too much burden on the schools system or the police or fire, is not healthy for refugees or us.” Mayor Paul Hapole said.
There are two organizations that help refugees in the resettlement process: Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle and Refugee Services of Texas.
They were both asked three years ago to reduce the number of refugees brought to Amarillo. But, original resettlements are not the main problem.
Nancy Koons, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle said. “In addition to that we see a lot of secondary refugees that settle in other cities then choose to move to Amarillo because they have family here, they like the weather or they know that there’s employment.”
Despite the efforts to reduce the number of refugees brought into Amarillo, the population is still growing too fast. That’s why congressman Mac Thornberry brought the state department to Amarillo to meet with community leaders.
“One of the things I hope we can accomplish is helping the state department understand that we’re not just dealing with the people they bring to Amarillo. But, it’s the relatives and the secondary migration that we’re also dealing with and they’ve also got to take that into account.” Thornberry said… Read more here
Posted in Amarillo, Burma/Myanmar, Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle, Catholic Family Service, Amarillo, children, Iranian, Iraqi, meatpacking industry, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Office of Admissions, Refugee Services of Texas, school for refugee children, schools, secondary migration | Tagged: Amarillo, Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle, immigration, meat packing, Refugee Services of Texas, refugees, resettlement, restriction, schools, State Department | 1 Comment »