Archive for the ‘dangerous neighborhoods’ Category
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.
…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 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 Republiccovers 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 | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 13, 2013
The death of two refugee children in a recent hit and run accident in Denver stresses the importance of resettlement workers orienting newly arrived refugees to the layout and rules of our communities. In this case the parent was crossing the road with the children where there was not a crosswalk. The family was clients of the ECDC African Community Center. Although many American neighborhoods are still not designed or managed for pedestrian friendliness it remains important that people do the extra walking that may be necessary to cross roads, especially busy ones, only where there are crosswalks. Some refugee clients who have been advised of this are also are not heeding instructions. By the way, this stresses the need for repetition in teaching. People need to hear information several times at least before that information settles into the mind. One time is usually not enough. CBS Denver has the story:
Two children killed in a hit and run crash in Denver last week were laid to rest … The search for the driver in the deadly crash continues.
The SUV struck Zamar Bee and her children, Zamay Kahn, 8, his brother Arzat, 6, near the intersection of 14th and Yosemite. The family was not using the crosswalk when they were struck.
Bee continues to recover from her serious injuries at Denver Health Medical Center.
“As you can imagine she’s not doing well. This is probably the most devastating thing that could happen to a mother,” said ECDC/African Community Center spokeswoman Jennifer Gueddiche…
Police said they’re still looking for the stroller that may have become wedged beneath the SUV. Parts of a stroller were found in the area of 14th and Yosemite but police have not confirmed if those are connected.
The ECDC/African Community Center has created a fund to help Bee with medical expenses and support…
Donations can be made at any Key Bank location under the Zamar Bee support fund. Read more here
Posted in African Community Center (Denver), Burma/Myanmar, children, cultural/community orientation, post arrival, dangerous neighborhoods, Denver, ECDC, safety | Tagged: African Community Center, children, crosswalk, Denver, ECDC, Ethiopian Community Development Council, hit & run, hit and run, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 26, 2012
Perpetrators have been targeting Burmese refugees in Rochester, NY. The crimes involve muggings and robberies. The crimes are rarely reported due to the refugees’ mistrust of police. A Sudanese refugee was shot to death last may. WUHF-Fox has an article and video report:
Tonight, we bring you the story of a local group of refugees and their struggle to make a home in Rochester.
News 8 has learned members of the Burmese community who’ve settled on Rochester’s Northwest side have been the targets of persistent crime.
We’re talking about crimes like muggings and robberies, most of which go unreported…
An estimated 800 Burmese refugees live in Rochester many near Lake and Dewey Avenues…
It’s a common problem according to Khadin Lee.
As the Refugee Outreach Worker at Lake Avenue Baptist Church, she works closely with many refugees, and has seen the trend increase over the last year.
Lee believes the Burmese are targeted.
“You can see them as different. Our people, they’ve only been here for a short time so you can see them in their traditional costume.”
Virtually no effort has been made to search for, or question these suspects.
That’s because these crimes hardly ever get reported.
In fact, the Rochester Police Department tells me the last crime like this on record, was over a year ago.
Its not surprising to Lee. She added “Those are the people that are corrupted back home, so when they see people in uniform they dont trust them.”
She is working with the community to increase trust in the police, and teach them how to use 911 to get immediate help… Read more here
Posted in Burma/Myanmar, dangerous neighborhoods, police, Rochester, safety | Tagged: Burma, Burmese, muggings, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement, robbery, rochester | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 19, 2012
Last October police shot to death a man who struggled with them after trying to rob a Nepali Bhutanese refugee at a low-income North Side apartment complex where local resettlement agencies have placed them. Another media look into the situation at the apartment complexes shows that many refugees’ apartments have been burglarized since they began to arrive in the Columbus area four years ago. People also walk up to them and ask for money, with some refugees handing over cash just so they’ll be left alone and then not reporting the incidents to police. The article, however, also gives a clue about police-community relations by noting that police arrested a Nepali Bhutanese refugee for littering when he merely dropped a store receipt outside a convenience store. (Arrested for littering?) An article in The Columbus Dispatch has the story:
When Narayan Sharma returned to his North Side apartment on June 6, he was stunned to discover that someone had broken in.
He said he was shocked that the thieves apparently had no fear of being caught when they hauled out his 42-inch television, a laptop computer, a checkbook and cash during the daytime burglary.
Crime, Sharma said, was not a big problem during his 16 years in a refugee camp in the Himalayan country of Nepal. But it’s something he and other Bhutanese Nepali refugees have had to deal with since they began to arrive in the Columbus area four years ago.
One of the reasons is where many of them live — concentrated in several apartment complexes near Morse Road in the Northland area.
“Our expectation is to have safety and security,” said Bhim Basnet, who lives in the Breckenridge Apartments with his wife and four children, the oldest a 16-year-old girl, the youngest a 9-month-old son…
…He said he would like to see police patrolling the area. Community leaders and groups who work with the refugees estimate that their number has grown to more than 2,000 in little more than a year.
Sharma said that a number of refugees’ apartments have been burglarized and that people walk up to the refugees and ask for money. Some refugees hand over cash just so they’ll be left alone, said Damaru Adhikari, who works at the US Together refugee-resettlement agency.
Sharma…said: “They find easy targets, and people don’t complain.”
On Feb. 29, a 35-year-old Bhutanese Nepali refugee was arrested for littering outside a North Side convenience store. He said he dropped a receipt.
The charge, a third-degree misdemeanor, ultimately was dismissed, but the man had to pay $92 in court costs.
The incident “really scared” him, said his attorney, Edward Forman. “I can’t imagine in a million years he would be arrested for that.”… Read more here
Posted in Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), dangerous neighborhoods, housing, Nepali Bhutanese, police, US Together | Tagged: bhutanese, Breckenridge Apartments, burglary, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services, Nepali, police, refugees, resettlement, US Together | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 17, 2012
A South Sudanese refugee who arrived in Rochester, NY at age 14 as an unaccompanied minor was murdered on Tuesday. Paul Chol Awuol was holding a friend’s son when a man just came up and shot him in the chest, according to the friend, Jessica Lane. He was in the process of becoming a certified nursing assistant, focused on helping others, when he went to Smith Street Tuesday to watch Lane’s child. In 2010 Sudanese refugees in Rochester reported finding a bullet hole in their apartment ceiling after three men were shot to death in the apartment above. A report at CBS Channel 8 gives details:
As Rochester police search for a suspect in Tuesday’s Smith Street homicide, friends of Paul Chol Awuol say the Sudanese refugee was shot in the chest while watching a close friend’s son.
Jerry DeLuccio wants people to remember Awuol as more than a crime statistic. “This was a young man that has made such a difference,” he said…
…Awuol was in the process of becoming a certified nursing assistant, focused more and more on helping others. That’s what led him to Smith Street Tuesday, to watch a friend’s child. “He was holding my son in his hand when this man came and just shot him in the chest,” said friend Jessica Lane through tears.
A small memorial has begun where the Sudanese refugee fell, the painful irony all too clear. The man who came to America as a boy to escape violence was ultimately killed by a gunman. “That’s what hurts me so much, is that he was ready to explode, in terms of how he would help others and we’re never going to have that chance,” said DeLuccio… Read more here
Posted in dangerous neighborhoods, men, Rochester, safety, South Sudanese, teenagers | Tagged: dangerous neighborhoods, Paul Chol Awuol, refugees, resettlement, rochester, shot to death, sudanese | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 4, 2012
Young Cambodians, mainly men, who came to the United States as infants and refugees, and were resettled in some of America’s worst gang infested neighborhoods, are now being deported due to felonies for which they have already served their time. Those who have atoned for their past crimes and are living as productive members of American society have no right to show a judge evidence of this or appeal their deportations. A video at YouTube explains their story:
One of the untold stories of the current immigration hysteria sweeping America is the forced deportation of young Cambodians, mainly men, who came to the United States as infants and refugees after escaping the Khmer Rouge genocide, civil war and illegal US invasion and bombings of Cambodia. Their families, poor, uneducated farmers for the most part, were dumped in some of America’s worst gang infested neighborhoods. Even though they had ‘permanent resident’ status, felony convictions, some more than 10 years old, means under new immigration rules they are being sent back to a country they do not know, where they have no family and little hope of escaping poverty. Even after serving time and paying back their debt to society, over 1500 Cambodians, some as old as 70 years, are being punished a second time and thrown into ICE jails with no right to appeal.
Over 200 have already arrived in Cambodia, leaving behind families, wives and children in the US. The deportees have no right to appeal, no right to see a judge to show that they have atoned for their past crimes and are living as productive members of American society. Considering America’s role in the turmoil that swept through Cambodia in the 1970s, we are breaking the faith with these refugees. Watch video here
By the way, if any of these young men had pursued their right to apply for citizenship, and had attained it, then they would not have been subject to deportation. Parents and resettlement agencies should help with this.
Posted in Cambodian, dangerous neighborhoods, ICE, Los Angeles, Oakland | Tagged: cambodian, deportation, gangs, ICE, Lost Boys, Lost Boyz, refugees, resettlement | 1 Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 1, 2012
Below is a comment that a regular reader of this blog submitted for today’s State Department public hearing on the size and scope of the refugee program for fiscal year 2013:
I am a private citizen refugee advocate who has been assisting refugees with resettlement issues for the past three years. My comments are based on my experience helping refugees after they arrive in the United States with two exceptions: (1) It shouldn’t be as hard as it appears to be logistically for refugees to go through the process to enter the U.S. . By that I mean, not that each individual shouldn’t be scrutinized in detail, but that the process should entail the least travel through dangerous areas in their home countries, the fewest return trips to an application center, the most feedback about application status, the fewest repeat requests for information, and the speediest answer about whether refugee status will be granted. (2) The travel loan program should be converted to a travel grant program. There seems to be some sort of philosophy that it is citizen-building to saddle a refugee with debt as his/her first exposure to life in the United States. I disagree…It is regularly and repeatedly emphasized to them that failure to repay the travel loan can jeopardize their ability to get U.S. citizenship because of an adverse credit report – yet they are all too often given no information about how to seek forgiveness of a loan many of them will likely never be able to repay in time because of their personal situations. Furthermore, I think having the resettlement agencies act as collection agents for these loans is a significant conflict of interest…
My remaining comments concern my experience during the course of my activities as a refugee advocate…Resettlement agency failures to meet contracted responsibilities are not isolated incidences but are regular, daily occurrences on a widespread basis. I believe these failures occur not because of lack of resources, although that is surely true in some cases, but primarily because of a lack of leadership. Leadership in the local affiliates, leadership in the national offices of resettlement agencies, and leadership in the Domestic Resettlement Section. The failure of leadership that talks to each other more than to refugees. Leadership that cares more about what Washington thinks than what refugees think…I have encountered exactly two offices serving refugees in which a human actually answered the telephone; my experience instead has been full of voice mail not returned and even voice mail boxes completely full – this by agencies who are serving people who may not even have used a telephone before coming to the U.S. Leadership, such as that at World Relief, who cares more about its employees’ religious qualifications than their actual competence. Leadership that does not put enough of its own cash into a resettlement program but instead phonies up the value of its match (the value of which, I believe, is rarely, if ever, audited…English language instruction, crucial, of course, for new arrivals, is regularly inadequate and irrelevant to what a new arrival needs. Referrals for mental health services are regularly inadequate or nonexistent. Housing placements are regularly in dangerous neighborhoods and/or too expensive for the refugee to sustain after financial support stops. Too often refugees are completely abandoned after the initial six months placement…Too often the minimum contractually-required services are not adequately provided or not provided at all. Too often refugees become homeless…There are few people in responsible positions who have the personal and professional competence to install effective programs, who care whether their subcontractors perform well, who care whether their employees serve their clients well, who blame themselves and not their clients when things are not working well…
Particularly disappointing is the leadership of the Domestic Resettlement Section who appears to be more apologist for and defender of resettlement agencies and their local affiliates no matter what rather than the overseers and refugee advocates they should be. Complaints go unanswered; or, if answered, are answered with the condescension of a parent who knows best and must be trusted to do the right thing. Investigation may be promised but one never knows whether it happens and what the result is because that would be a violation of confidentiality. All I know is that what I complained about did not appear to change…Program audits are too infrequent and do not appear to include audits of financial responsibility…Particularly disappointing is that the Domestic Resettlement Section seems to think all is well and nothing needs to change – at least nothing they care to share with the public…
Here is a link to a documentary about refugees in Buffalo, N.Y. I think you’ll find their indomitable spirits despite all that has happened to them is most inspiring. I also recommend the press kit that is posted on the web site for an insight as to how resettlement agencies in Buffalo inspired the making of this film. Read full letter here
Posted in capacity, dangerous neighborhoods, democracy, language interpretation/translation, lack of, Office of Admissions, openess and transparency in government, RPC (Refugee Processing Center), SIV (Special Immigrant Visa) immigrants, State Department, Travel Loan Program, volunteers, World Relief | Tagged: Advocate, comment, Domestic Resettlement Section, FY2013, public hearing, refugees, resettlement, RPC (Refugee Processing Center), State Department, US Department of State | 1 Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 10, 2012
In addition to the two recent murders of South Sudanese refugees in Denver, the director of ECDC African Community Center says that there have been many incidents of the refugees being attacked, hassled and threatened in the city. A young South Sudanese man was shot in the neck and paralyzed from the waist down when two men robbed him as he returned to his Denver apartment one afternoon last June. Another South Sudanese refugee reports having been laughed at, called ugly and told to go back to where he came from. A teenage girl once threatened to hit him with a rock, he said, and he believes that the Sudanese have been victims due to their darker color (most Sudanese have skin that is darker than that of the average African-American). An article in the Denver Post gives other details of abusive treatment and crimes against local South Sudanese residents:
Jimma Reat’s murder last week in Denver was one more blow to a war-scarred community of Sudanese refugees still struggling to come to grips with the unsolved shooting death of Reat’s uncle four months ago.
The immigrants from the African country are frequently victims, said Project Education Sudan director Carol Rinehart.
“There are a lot of incidents with Sudanese being attacked, hassled and threatened,” Rinehart said. “They have been through a lot of trauma, and to have this happen to them, it just creates more anxiety.”…
…”This is a community that knows death. That doesn’t make it any easier,” said Jennifer Gueddiche, director of the ECDC African Community Center…
…David Deng, who came to the United States in 2001, was shot in the neck and paralyzed from the waist down when two men robbed him as he returned to his Denver apartment one afternoon last June. When a friend called and told him of Reat’s death, the news hit him hard.
“That is scaring me,” said Deng, 30. “We don’t know why there are a lot of bad things happening.”
His sentiment is widely shared within the tight-knit community of refugees that numbers about 6,000, Gueddiche said…
…”This is huge. They’re just absolutely devastated,” she said. “Imagine coming to a place where you are supposed to be safe. … This is the second random act of violence on this community.”
The recent burst of violence began Dec. 26, when Reat’s uncle, Youn Malual, was shot and killed in the parking lot of his Arapahoe County apartment building.
A father of five, he was returning from his job as a bus mechanic when he was attacked. He had no enemies, said Dengpathot, who thinks Malual’s death was the result of someone’s road rage.
His killer hasn’t been caught. Denver police also are still seeking those involved in Reat’s death. The longer the killers stay free, the more likely they — or someone else — will hurt another person, said Reat’s uncle, Thomas Puot…
…Authorities in Denver and Arapahoe County have said they have no reason to think the shootings of Mulual and Reat are related.
“At this point, we don’t have any indication of a connection, but it is something we will keep open,” said Denver police Capt. Ron Saunier, head of the Crimes Against Persons Bureau. “I don’t want to rule it out.”
The investigation into Malual’s death is active, and investigators are working on “significant” leads, said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson.
Saunier said there is no indication that Reat’s death is gang-related.
The assailants, who appeared to be Latino, screamed racial epithets during the attack, said Reat’s brother, Ran James Pal, 25, who was driving that night.
That racial slurs would be part of the assault doesn’t surprise Isaac Bher, 32, who immigrated in 2001 and is now a U.S. citizen. Most Sudanese have skin that is darker than that of the average African-American.
“I know we have been victims by our darker color,” Bher said. “Even the African-Americans are not very happy with us.”
He said he has been laughed at, called ugly and told to go back to where [he] came from. A teenage girl once threatened to hit him with a rock, he said… Read more here
Posted in African Community Center (Denver), dangerous neighborhoods, Denver, police, safety, South Sudanese | Tagged: African Community Center, attacks, Denver, racial prejudice, refugees, resettlement, shootings, sudanese | Leave a Comment »