Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Archive for the ‘Issues’ Category

UNHCR Says Syrian Refugees Will Be Processed in Canada

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 11, 2015

visaIt looks as if Canada might just succeed in resettling 25,000 Syrians before the end of the year. In a glimmer of how Canada  will achieve that the UNHCR has announced that it is working with Canada to select 25,000 refugees to be airlifted to Canada while their cases are fully processed. In the meantime the refugees will be given temporary residency permits. Canada used a similar plan in 1999 when it airlifted more than 5,000 Kosovar refugees to Canada over the course of four months. The UNHCR indicates that about 10 per cent of the 4.1 million refugees in countries neighboring Syria are in need of new, permanent homes elsewhere in the world, with about 155,000 of those refugees now assigned for resettlement by other countries. An article in the Grand Forks Gazette has the story:

OTTAWA – Syrian refugees being brought to Canada by the Liberal government will only be given temporary residency permits until their cases have been fully processed in Canada, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee says.

It’s the first sliver of concrete detail about how the Liberals will meet a target to resettle 25,000 people by the end of the year, a logistical challenge now being overseen by a cabinet committee set to meet for the first time Tuesday.

In a statement Tuesday morning, the UN’s Antonio Guterres said his agency is working with the government to identify people for resettlement — particularly from Lebanon and Jordan — and help facilitate their move.

He said Syrians coming to Canada will initially receive a temporary residence permit, which will be replaced by permanent status after processing in Canada. They’ll be eligible to apply for citizenship in four years.

Guterres also welcomed the Liberal government’s commitment to resettling 25,000 Syrians by the end of the year, calling it a huge gesture of solidarity and urging other countries to follow suit.

“Too many vulnerable refugees are languishing in countries neighbouring Syria, caught in a downward spiral of poverty and risk as they struggle to meet their basic needs,” he said.

“We need many more ambitious programs like this to offer Syrians a chance to start their lives anew.”…

The temporary permit approach was used in 1999 when more than 5,000 Kosovars were airlifted to Canada over four months…

The UN estimated about 10 per cent of the 4.1 million refugees in countries neighbouring Syria are in need of new, permanent homes elsewhere in the world.

To date, about 155,000 places have been made available in about 30 different countries. Read more here

Posted in Canadian refugee resettlement pgrm, Syrian, UNHCR | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Canada to Resettle 25,000 Syrian Refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 10, 2015

Air-CanadaCanadian officials insist that newly sworn-in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by years end will be kept. Whether it’s possible or not to complete by years end, it will involve extensive assistance from the the Department of National Defence, which is apparently planning to fly the refugees in from Lebanon and possibly Turkey and set them up in housing at military bases. Air Canada has also offered planes to assist in this major effort. It’s not certain yet how refugees will be health and security screened so quickly or whether or not the refugees will be referred by the UNHCR. Canadian authorities will likely be revealing a more detailed plan soon. An article at the National Post explains more:

TORONTO — As the Liberal government gears up to meet its promise to bring 25,000 government-sponsored Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of 2015, experts say time may be too short to effectively settle refugees and navigate security concerns.

“The numbers are not difficult numbers. The timeline is a difficult timeline,” said Naomi Alboim, a Queen’s University professor and former deputy minister of citizenship in Ontario.

With more than four million Syrian refugees in need, the first order of business will be identifying those to bring to Canada. Government-sponsored refugees are typically referred to Canada by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which confirms their refugee status and passes on the most urgent cases. Canadian visa officers then review their claims, and put refugees through security checks and health screenings. The process can take months, if not years… Read more here

Posted in Canadian refugee resettlement pgrm, Syrian | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Call for Renewal of Private Sponsorship of Refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 5, 2015

BeasponsorThe Niskanen Center, a libertarian think-tank in Washington D.C., is promoting a renewal of private sponsorship in the US refugee resettlement program. The group is calling for a relaunch of a Reagan administration era program known as the Private Sector Initiative (PSI), similar to a refugee resettlement program in Canada in which citizens act as sponsors to refugees, committing to provide the assistance individual refugees or refugee families need to resettle. The Canadian program has privately resettled 230,000 refugees since 1978, with the costs estimated to begin at about CA$12,600 (US$9,572) for a single refugee over one year. The Reagan administration created the PSI by entering into agreements with ethnic charities and from 1988 to 1993 privately resettled almost 16,000 refugees.  The US Arab community and others are suggesting the initiative as part of a way to address the enormous Syrian refugee crises that has seen 11 million Syrians displaced, seven million internally within Syria and four million outside of the country, or almost half of the country’s 23 million people. An article at Thomson Reuters Foundation explores the idea of renewing refugee resettlement private sponsorship in the US:

…although the United States has promised to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming year, this can only happen through government channels at present, prompting calls for change as the refugee crisis escalates…

Under the U.S. model, private donations can be made to non-government groups working with authorities to host refugees. But there is no way people can pick up the tab without going through this system…

[In Canada], for the duration of the sponsorship period, 12 months or until refugees become self-sufficient, Canadians who act as sponsors commit to providing them with a range of care, from lodging to clothing and introducing them to the community…

Niskanen Center, a libertarian think-tank in Washington D.C., is promoting private sponsorship in the United States.

“Even if this program is small, it will be a significant contributor to dealing with this issue,” said David Bier, its director of immigration policy.

Among the politicians who support private sponsorship is Congressional Democrat John Conyers, whose Michigan district has been home to generations of Arab-born people…

Last month, a coalition led by the Syrian American Council sent a letter to Obama requesting private sponsorship. [See below]

It seeks an unlimited number of privately sponsored refugees and at least 100,000 government-sponsored refugees. Sponsoring groups would cover all costs for 18 months or until a refugee becomes self-sufficient.
Some organizations have refrained from joining the campaign for private sponsorship, including the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants which prefers to focus on calls to increase the government-sponsored number to 100,000.

“We feel the establishment of a new and separate avenue will dilute efforts to increase the number of Syrian refugee arrivals,” said spokeswoman Stacie Blake.

Campaigners say money is not lacking in the U.S. Syrian-American community, which has hubs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and New Jersey suburbs to the west of New York City.

Nearly one in five hold graduate or professional degrees, and the median family income is more than 10 percent higher than that of the overall population, U.S. Census Bureau data shows.

In Canada, the government estimates the costs of private sponsorship over a year begin at about CA$12,600 (US$9,572) for a single refugee and CA$29,700 (US$22,563) for a family of five.

“It could take a family from a situation of despair to building a new future, so it’s a worthwhile investment,” said Attar…. Read more here

The letter reads as follows:

“In 1987, the Reagan administration created the Private Sector Initiative (PSI) by entering into Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with ethnic charities. From 1988 to 1993, PSI and a related program privately resettled almost 16,000 refugees outside the regular refugee limit, with groups covering the resettlement costs. PSI was similar to a Canadian program which exists today and under which more than 230,000 refugees have been privately resettled since 1978. The present is the perfect time to replicate PSI’s success. In addition to your Administration’s commitment to increasing the total cap on refugees, which we believe should be further increased by 100,000, we urge you to create a separate refugee limit for refugees entering under MOUs with groups that agree to cover all the costs for 18 months or until the refugee becomes self-sufficient, whichever is earlier. Enabling such a program would empower the United States to become home to a greater number of refugees.” Read more here

Posted in Canadian refugee resettlement pgrm, funding, legislation, Obama administration, public/private partnership | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program Questioned

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 3, 2015

CentralAmerica2Just now a year after the creation of the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program (CAM) in response to the wave of Central American minors crossing the southern border, fleeing an epidemic crime wave (street gangs, extortion and sexual assault), refugee and human rights groups are pointing out that the requirement for the minors to stay in their home countries awaiting outcomes of US immigration decisions puts those youth at risk.  The youth and their families claim that their lives are threatened at home, yet the US will not accept them for evaluation unless they stay in place.  The purpose of the program was to discourage youth from making dangerous treks to the US for reunion with parents or other family members, but advocates claim that its other purpose was to stop the politically damaging effect of the wave of border crossings.  Advocates are also criticizing the year it has taken to get the program up and running, yet it’s not clear that building a new system for processing refugee applicants in Central America — or completing all the necessary steps such as applications, background checks, DNA testing, etc. — could have been accomplished any sooner.  State Department officials claim that most of the applications for the program were submitted only in the last four months, and that some parents had taken a long time to have the DNA tests performed  An article in the Huffington Post explains the issue:

WASHINGTON — After facing a crisis of unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America for the U.S. last year, the government created a program that would allow parents here to apply for their children to join them without making a dangerous trek.

It was meant to discourage illegal border crossings while still giving some Central Americans who face persecution at home a way to join their family in the U.S.

Nearly a year after it was announced, though, officials confirmed to The Huffington Post that the U.S. government has interviewed only 90 of the nearly 4,000 Central Americans who had applied as of Oct. 6. And even though most of those interviewed were found eligible for help, none of them have come to the U.S.

Advocates for refugees called this delay unconscionable.

“Nobody ever thought this was a panacea, but the fact that it hasn’t worked, it undermines any credibility the administration might have in terms of actually trying to address the concerns of those kids,” said Lavinia Limón, the president of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants…

The Obama administration created the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program, or CAM, last November to discourage minors from coming to the U.S. without authorization — one of many responses to the crisis-level apprehensions last summer. The program is run by the departments of State and Homeland Security… Read more here

Posted in children, el salvadoran, Guatemalan, honduran, Human Rights Watch, Obama administration, teenagers, teens | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Second Tragic Van Crash in Three Years for Refugees in Jacksonville, Florida

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 2, 2015

vancrashIt’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: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

No funding yet for resettlement increase from 70,000 to 85,000 in FY2016

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 30, 2015

Money in Maze - Dollar Sign in Middle

For some reason that I cannot figure out, the Office of Refugee Admissions in the US Department of State is trying to sell an expanded refugee resettlement program to a reluctant Congress as “an extremely expensive endeavor.” So said Kelly Gauger, deputy director for refugee admissions at the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Last year the State Department spent $1.1 billion resettling in the country roughly 70,000 refugees from all over the world.  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced in September that he U.S. will accept 85,000 refugees from around the world in fiscal 2016, and that total would rise to 100,000 in 2017.  Sens. Lindsey Graham and Patrick J. Leahy, the chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, of the Appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for foreign aid, introduced a bill that would give an additional $1 billion for humanitarian funding for refugees displaced by fighting in the Middle East.  The legislation has attracted some support from Democratic senators, but has failed so far to pick up Republican backing.  Melanie Nezer, vice president for policy and advocacy at HIAS, has a better idea on how to lay out the case to the American people on why the increase is so important. She pointed out that providing support to refugees is in the national security interests of the United States by helping to take the load off key regional allies such as Jordan and Turkey, who are bearing the brunt off the millions of refugees fleeing Syria (Turkey is hosting approximately 1.9 million refugees from Syria, Jordan has received more than 600,000, and Lebanon over one million).  More foreign aid to these allies and accepting more of the Syrian refugees displaced within their borders for resettlement to the US would help reduce the chances of instability spreading from Syria to these allies. Although resettlement is initially more expensive than assisting refugees in camps and cities where they are displaced, resettlement becomes increasingly necessary the longer a crisis goes on, as people’s lives become stuck in a never ending wait.  From a larger perspective, more importantly, humanitarian programs take up only 2 percent of our national budget. The topic is discussed in an article in Roll Call:

Congress has the responsibility to increase funding for a refugee resettlement program, a senior State Department official said this week, rejecting criticism from humanitarian groups that the Obama administration has not acted swiftly enough to admit more Syrian refugees into the country.

“There has to be political will not just on the part of the administration, but on the Congress to fund a resettlement program,” said Kelly Gauger, deputy director for refugee admissions at the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. “We need significantly more money than we’re getting now, and I am not sure that many of us have confidence that we’re going to get that money from this Congress.”

Earlier this month, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Patrick J. Leahy, the chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, of the Appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for foreign aid, introduced legislation (S 2145) that would provide an additional $1 billion in humanitarian funding for refugees displaced by fighting in the Middle East. The measure has attracted support from Democratic senators such as Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut and Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, but has trailed in picking up Republican backing.

The bill, which would most likely be folded into any fiscal 2016 omnibus spending measure, would allow for some of the $1 billion to be redirected to the State Department-led U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which last year spent $1.1 billion resettling roughly 70,000 refugees from all over the world in the country.

“The U.S. refugee resettlement program is an extremely expensive endeavor,” Gauger said speaking at a Bipartisan Policy Center forum. The State official said her bureau last year spent about $400 million on the program. “We’re going to need even more in [fiscal] 2016 to bring in 85,000.”

Eighty-five thousand is the number of global refugees President Barack Obama told Congress are expected to be resettled in the United States in fiscal 2016. Humanitarian groups, religious leaders and a growing chorus of Democrats have called for 100,000 Syrians to be brought to the country next year, above and beyond the normal caps on global refugees… Read more here

Posted in ceiling limit, refugee annual, Congress, funding, HIAS, Obama administration, Office of Admissions, Syrian | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Banning Martian Refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 28, 2015

ban martians 1

A THREAT to American values.

Pickens County Council in S. Carolina has cast a unanimous resolution prohibiting Syrian refugees from being resettled in the county. The director of the Spartanburg SC branch of World Relief Rev. Jason Lee describes the Council’s actions as “mind-boggling”, and that “[they] can pass resolutions for Martians not to come too, because they’re not coming either.” World Relief has been resettling refugees in Spartanburg and Greenville counties, not Pickens County. Angry conservative tea party activists have spent a lot of energy sounding the alarm bells about Syrian refugees in Pickens County, where no one is resettling them. One zany activist stood before members of the Pickens County Republican Party at a meeting at Liberty Auditorium and warned the hushed crowd of about 40, breathless in anticipation, that the refugee program is part of a “CONSPIRACY orchestrated by insiders” in Washington, designed to create “a ONE-PARTY POLITICAL SYSTEM” and “enlarge a populace DEPENDENT on BIG GOVERNMENT!” She went on to charge up the crowd with panic and fear, telling attendees that the influx of “Muslims from the Middle East”, most of them men of “FIGHTING AGE”, is part of the Islamic State’s “STEALTH ATTACK” on “AMERICAN VALUES!” One almost envisions scary Middle East terrorists whipping and abusing little frightened and defenseless American values, cringing in fear. Meanwhile refugees resettled, clear over in Spartanburg county, are “persecuted Christians from the Congo and Burma. Four…from Iraq and the rest…from other African nations.” No plans for Syrian refugees being resettled there either. In fact, no one has resettled Syrian refugees at all in all of South Carolina. Nevertheless, Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill made the political pronouncement that he doesn’t like “the way” resettlement is being done, and insisted that a workshop be scheduled to answer all of his “questions.” Lee at World Relief said he invited the legislative delegations of both Greenville and Spartanburg counties to a meeting to discuss the issue, yet not one lawmaker showed up. Articles in the Greenville News by Ron Barnett attempt to explain the strange and bewildering tea party and Republican political goings on:

Members of the Pickens County Republican Party recently heard a chilling update on the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program at Liberty Auditorium….

Critics of the alarmist sentiment, however, say the meeting only serves to show how unfounded some of the fears are regarding a mass influx of immigrants that simply aren’t expected to come to Pickens County. The differing opinions on extreme opposite ends of the spectrum reveal an emotional tug-of-war that exists in the Upstate…

This week, a posting on the Pickens County News Facebook page warned: “Do you want these children of unvetted Syrians coming in to your child’s public school and sitting beside your child?… cause if one of these kids brings a real bomb clock into the classroom and your child gets blown up…whose fault is it?”…

The Rev. Keith Ray, pastor of Clemson United Methodist Church and a former member of the Greenville County School Board, said he’s concerned about “an unfounded panic” over refugees coming here.

“We don’t need meetings to create panic and fear based on our own prejudices,” he said. “Instead, understanding more about the plight of those who are having to be relocated would be most helpful…

The State Department, which oversees the program, paints a different picture…

All refugees who enter the United States are screened by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, the official said… Read more here


While those who oppose refugee resettlement here have been making their voices heard the loudest lately, there’s also a large contingent of people who support offering help to those seeking asylum, according to Lee, the World Relief official.

More than 40 pastors and others representing churches across the Upstate signed a letter of support, he said…

[Rev. Jason Lee, the director of the Spartanburg branch of World Relief] took issue with claims that the Syrians coming in are “unvetted.”

“There’s no such thing as an unvetted refugee that comes in, period,” he said.

It takes 18-24 months to go through a 13-step security and health screening process before they can be approved, he said.

He said he invited the legislative delegations of Greenville and Spartanburg counties to a meeting in June to discuss the issue, and not one Upstate lawmaker attended.

“There’s a lot of political motivation in this and that’s unfortunate, because we’re driven by Christian charity,” he said…

Miji Bell, a spokesman for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the only other organization in the state approved to resettle refugees, said no Syrians have been relocated here. Read more here

Posted in faith-based, right-wing, South Carolina, Spartanburg, Syrian, World Relief, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

30 Million Refugee Children

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 20, 2015

silhouette-childrenThere are now about 30 million refugee children in the world who have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to persecution, oppression and war. Total refugees number 60 million (this includes people who have fled their country, been forced out, or who are internally displaced within their borders). This is the largest number ever recorded and surpassing the over 40 million refugees in Europe by the end of World War ll. As the pressure increased on the Obama administration to increase the number of refugees it accepts from the world’s expanding war zones, it has agreed to increase the current ceiling limit of 70,000 each year to 85,000 next year and 100,000 in 2017. Anne C. Richard, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, stated that this increase in refugees the US will accept will be, “a stretch.” This relatively moderate increase, however, pales in contrast to other countries such as Germany, which has agreed to accept 800,000 refugees. The process for vetting and admitting refugees to the US now takes up to two years, requiring several rounds of background checks across a network of intelligence agencies, plus a face-to-face interview to decide if an applicant has a valid refugee claim (the right-wing has been spreading misinformation, claiming that our government does not conduct any real security checks). An article in The Star Advertiser explains the situation:

…The Obama administration has promised a gradual increase in the total refugees it resettles — from a current ceiling of 70,000 each year to 85,000 next year and 100,000 in 2017. That falls far short of what refugee advocates are demanding, but U.S. officials say even the current goals will not be easy to pull off.

“It’s a stretch,” said Anne C. Richard, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration. “It’s going to take lot of effort, a lot of cooperation from other agencies in the U.S. government and partner organizations.”

…the White House is under intense scrutiny to ensure that terrorists do not slip in with refugees, so the process for vetting and admitting refugees takes up to two years, requiring several rounds of background checks across a network of intelligence agencies, plus a face-to-face interview to check if an applicant has a valid refugee claim.

At least 18,000 Syrians and 55,000 Iraqis are in the pipeline, having been vetted by the U.N. and now waiting to have their cases examined by the United States….About half are children.

They are part of what the U.N. calls a historic global displacement, with nearly 60 million people forced to flee their homes because of war and persecution. Hundreds of thousands, including Syrians and Iraqis, have poured into Europe in recent months in the Continent’s worst refugee crisis in decades. Germany alone has pledged to accept 800,000 refugees… Read more here

Posted in Assistant Secretary of the PRM, children, Obama administration, right-wing, security/terrorism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Michigan GOP Rejects Party’s Syrian Refugee Scare Mongering

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 18, 2015

Welcome_To_DearbornThe state of Michigan has been hard hit by losses in the automotive industry due to globalization of the auto industry. It’s also suffered population loss. The state’s largest city, Detroit, has lost more than a million residents since the 1950’s. Now, the state’s GOP governor and Detroit’s mayor are advocating for acceptance of Syrian refugees who have fled Syria to escape war and bloodshed. Some GOP presidential candidates, such as Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Donald Trump, are fear mongering to garner votes, claiming that terrorists have infiltrated the refugee group, while offering no evidence. The state, however, has a century-long history of Arabs building lives in the Detroit area, many with entrepreneurial talent. The story is found in the SF Chronicle:

…[Michigan], already home to a large Middle Eastern population, has accepted about 75 Syrian refugees this year and is making the case that it’s ready for more. Unlike some places where people have been wary about Syrian refugees, Michigan sees them as one solution to the state’s population loss…

…[the state has] a century-long history of Syrians and Arabs building lives in the Detroit area. That heritage and the economic and cultural connections, centered in the suburb of Dearborn, make it likely Michigan will be a top destination for current refugees. Other probable locations include Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Allentown, Pennsylvania, where resettlement experts say efforts have also begun…

GOP presidential candidates have criticized [President Barack Obama’s administration’s pledge to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next 12 months], with Ted Cruz and Ben Carson saying the refugees are infiltrated with terrorists…

Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is bucking those party leaders by welcoming the Syrians, both for humanitarian reasons as well as to address the state’s job and population loss. Saying those who have cleared security hurdles have something to offer economically and culturally…

…the Detroit area stands out for its large Arab-American population and leaders eager for more refugees.
It’s the economic argument that dominates in Michigan, hit hard by the globalization of the auto industry. Its largest city, Detroit, went through the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy after seeing its population fall by more than 1 million since the 1950s… Read more here

Posted in Dearborn, Detroit, Michigan, population levels, right-wing, Syrian, using refugees as pawns to boost | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Labor-starved Vermont businesses welcome refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 15, 2015

help_wantedVermont 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: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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