Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Archive for the ‘North Dakota’ Category

Refugee kids calling 911

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 20, 2011

An article in Public Radio International’s The World explains the issue of managing refugee children in their transition to a new culture — in particular, their newfound power of dialing 911. The article also explains related language-barrier problems.

Fargo police officer Cristie Jacobsen has responded to a lot of 9-11 calls, but few with less urgency than this one. “A teenage girl called the police on her mother because her mother had prepared a very simple ethnic meal for her and she didn’t like it,” said Jacobsen.

Coming to a new nation as a refugee — adjusting to a new language, culture, and climate — is always a struggle. But now in Fargo, North Dakota many refugee parents are being manipulated by their children.

Refugee children have been calling the Fargo Police because they don’t want to do the dishes or wear a particular shirt. They’ve also gotten a lot of calls about this: Parents were taking away their kid’s Mountain Dew.

The children didn’t like it,” said Jacobsen. “Because they had gotten used to drinking it, they enjoyed the caffeine splurge and things like that and so it became a power struggle.”… Read more here

Posted in children, cultural adjustment, language, North Dakota | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Mental illness? Sorry, we don’t cover that. Need an interpreter? Oh well.”

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 31, 2011

According to an employee who manages health and wellness programs at Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in Connecticut it’s almost next to impossible to get mental health care if you have Medicaid. Waiting lists are often longer then the eight months of Medicaid coverage for refugees. Need a translator? Sorry, many therapists don’t work with them. Plus, physicians aren’t trained to work with interpreters. The New Haven Independent tells more: 

The soldiers dragged out a pregnant woman and slit open her belly. A witness who was personally tortured for his political activism in Congo is more haunted by that image than his own pain.

Safe in Connecticut now, he has daily flashbacks and wants to see a therapist in order to cope with this memory as well as the stress of leaving his home, friends and family to start a new life in America.

But it will likely take months before he gets help. And if he does his therapist must speak French to communicate with him or be willing to work through an interpreter. To make matters worse, those months of waiting work against him – since he’ll qualify for health coverage for a limited time…

…About 28,000 refugees currently live in Connecticut, according to Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven. Many refugees come to the U.S. after suffering through traumatic experiences in their home countries, but financial and language barriers often keep them from getting mental health care.

This is one of many shortcomings in the services offered to refugees, according to a report issued this month by the Congressional Research Service, which was critical of federal resettlement programs that provide short term aid and often do not address the unique problems that refugees face, including trauma histories.

The long-term consequences of not providing refugees with good mental health care are devastating, according to Mary Scully, director of programs for Khmer Health Advocates in West Hartford. She connects untreated mental illness in her clients who came to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s with a wave a physical illness in the Cambodian-American community today. “Now we see the whole gamut of trauma-induced chronic disease,” she said.

The witness and other refugees need to go to providers who accept Medicaid, which covers refugees for their first eight months in the U.S. “It’s almost next to impossible to get mental health care if you have Medicaid,” said Kelly Hebrank, who manages health and wellness programs at IRIS. The providers who do accept Medicaid have long waiting lists, she said.

That waiting list means the duration of therapy is shorter, explained Zurowski.  She has advocated nationally for extending the period of Medicaid coverage so that refugees have longer to establish themselves in jobs that offer health benefits. The Congressional Research Service also identified the short duration of Medicaid for refugees as a problem…

A greater barrier is the refusal of some therapists to work through interpreters. Health care providers may resist using interpreters because it takes time during the appointment, time already limited by insurance regulations, said Dr. Hendry Ton, director of the University of California Davis Transcultural Wellness Center. “It’s almost an incentive not to use an interpreter,” said Ton, who is a psychiatrist. Most physicians, he added, are not trained to work through interpreters. Nor is there any standard of training for medical interpreters…Read more here

I guess I’m not understanding why a physician would need training to treat a patient who communicates through an interpreter. And why would any therapist worth their weight in salt not be willing to work through interpreters?

The interpretation for refugees at medical appointments reminds of a time in 2005 when a Sudanese refugee arrived with a giant mass protruding from his back (approximately 6’”x 5” and sticking out 2-3”) . Firstly, no one from his resettlement agency came to pick him up for his medical specialist appointment for this apparent tumor, so he had to wait another month for a new appointment. This time I took him to his appointment at which there was no scheduled interpreter even though he spoke Sudanese Arabic but almost no English. As a result of the lack of interpretation services medical personnel were not able to inject him for the CT scan as they were not willing to risk being unable to communicate with him in the event he had an adverse reaction to the injection. He then had another appointment at which there was only a Somali interpreter who spoke very little Arabic. Luckily, the CT scan done without the injection was sufficient that the doctor was then able to determine the need for a biopsy.

Once again I took him to the next appointment for the biopsy and, once again, there was no interpreter. The medical personnel then suddenly got the idea to call the Language Line (an over-the-phone interpretation service), although the refugee later complained that the interpreter on the Language Line spoke a Kurdish Arabic that he could not fully understand. As a result of this insufficient interpretation he endured a biopsy into muscle tissue in his back, including cauterization, while not being able to communicate to medical personnel that he had insufficient local anesthesia. He later said that the pain was excruciating. They then scheduled him for an X-ray. Once again, no interpreter arrived.

He was later diagnosed as having a hemangioma (most of the time a benign tumor of the capillaries or blood vessels – although rare for being of this large a size and at this location in the muscle of the back) and scheduled for an injection by an interventional radiologist in order to shrink the tumor. Unfortunately, he was so traumatized by this time by the earlier biopsy without sufficient local anesthesia that he then refused to go back to the doctor. All during this time his resettlement agency seemed oblivious to his case. At no time during my interaction with this refugee did anyone from his resettlement agency ever try to help him navigate the health care system, provide him with rides to the doctor or even a bus pass when he ran out of passes, or anything else that would have been helpful. They seem to have no awareness or interest in his plight. He later moved out of town having never returned to the doctor for treatment, and I sometimes wonder what his fate was.

Posted in Congolese, Connecticutt, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), language, Lutheran Social Services of ND, mental health, New Haven, North Dakota | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Revolving door keeps twirling between government oversight & refugee resettlement agencies

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 30, 2011

The revolving door between government oversight and refugee resettlement agencies is alive and well. The Fargo Forum reports that Linda Schell, the former state refugee coordinator for the North Dakota, has now been hired by Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota (LSSND):

Linda Schell has been named assistant state refugee coordinator for New American Services, a program of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, Fargo.

Schell has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver.

She was most recently the state refugee coordinator for the North Dakota Department of Human Services and has more than 30 years of experience in the public and nonprofit sectors. here

I met with Ms. Schell one time to discuss LSSND’s chronic neglect of their refugee clients, and Ms. Schell’s seemingly inability to curtail that neglect. Ms. Schell offered no feedback or solutions and instead spent the hour taking notes. When we later requested the notes via an Open Records request, to find out what was going since no one was telling us anything, Ms. Scheel’s state agency told us that the notes no longer existed. Why would someone takes detailed notes for an hour only to destroy them? Or were they destroyed after we requested them but before the state agency replied to us?

What can be said is that Ms. Schell spent years protecting LSSND and is now being amply rewarding for her loyalty with a private sector job with LSSND. And on and on it goes…

Posted in Lutheran Social Services of ND, neglect, North Dakota, revolving door | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

U.S. Customs and Border Protection civil servants at it again

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 6, 2010

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection civil servants have now responded to my FOIA request by releasing the 11 page report about their detention of Somali refugee(s) in Grand Forks – albeit the report is almost completely redacted. Apparently I am no longer considered a “commercial entity”, the excuse they used to delay release of the report for a month-and-a-half. I asked them what reason they had to ever consider me a commercial entity, and no response. They simply released the report suddenly and don’t answer the question.

Notice that one excuse used for the hundreds of redactions is that it would pose an “undo invasion of people’s privacy.” Yet they have even redacted the number of arrests, whether the person/people were male or female, and his/her/their citizenship status. How on earth would any of that be an undo invasion of privacy? It wouldn’t. We would have no way of knowing who the person/people are. If this public agency was operating on the up and up they would only have removed information that would show a person’s/people’s identity, e.g. name, address, date of birth, social security number, etc.

What we obviously have here is what we have seen at other government agencies — violation of U.S. laws (e.g. the Freedom of Information Act) simply to protect their own public servant hides and to avoid any accountability to the public, rather than protecting information that truly needs to be withheld. In other words, these government workers have a private interest in the information being hidden from the public, rather than any real public interest. That’s your money.

Remaining unanswered is why the Grand Forks Police asked for identification from members of the public who were merely watching the police at work. Also unanswered is why the U.S. Customs and Border Protection would then detain a person or people who had not engaged in any suspicious activity, let alone any illegal activity.

Posted in immigration documents, Lutheran Social Services of ND, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, North Dakota, openess and transparency in government, police, Somali, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says using documents to assist refugees and educate the public about refugees is “unconvincing”

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 30, 2010

I just received another letter today from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection about my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. A public servant named Dorothy Pullo, Director of FOIA Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in reply to my letter of November 3, 2010 claims that I indicated my belief that, “a message was being sent to residents by the involvement of the U.S. Border Patrol.” As I didn’t make any such statement in my letter I can only assume that Ms. Pullo is again internet surfing in a desperate bid to figure out how to overide my statements to her, rather than simply reading my letter. (I wonder if I’m going to be charged again for this additional internet surfing?) Notice, however, that I never made any such statement in my posting. I said that the Grand Forks Police were sending a message to anyone who dared stand and watch them by making those residents show documents.

Ms. Pullo also claims that, “your argument that the documents requested are to be used to assist refugees and educate the public about refugees is unconvincing”, and, “It appears likely the requested documents would be used in a manner consistent with interests of you and Friends of Refugees thus placing your request in the commercial-use requester fee category.” Thus I will need to pay at least $91.60 for them to press the print button on their computer and mail the 11 page document to me.

This is funny because that’s all I do – assist refugees and educate the public about refugees. Ms. Pullo offers no reason for why she would think I have any “commercial” interests in helping refugees or educating the public about refugees, probably because she has no real reason to think so.

I think what we have here is yet another government bureaucrat, whose salary we pay and who supposedly ought to be serving us, who thinks its her job to withhold government documents from the public and not abide by U.S. laws (Freedom of Information Act). Abiding by the law must seem like such an inconvenience to her.

Posted in Dept of Homeland Security, immigration documents, Lutheran Social Services of ND, North Dakota, openess and transparency in government, police, Somali, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

For refugees, ’tis the season of broken arms and legs

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 19, 2010

The approach of winter means that many refugees in cold states will be breaking their arms and legs when slipping on the ice. The main way that resettlement agencies can prevent this problem is to give all new refugees winter boots (with good traction) and instruction that refugees must wear the boots when walking outside in the winter.

A couple of years ago I was helping a Somali refugee in Fargo who had arrived with two young sons. Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota (LSSND) rarely gives refugees proper winter clothing, and more rarely winter boots, but in this case to my surprise they actually gave her boots. Unfortunately she went walking without the boots and slipped on the ice and broke her leg. The injury was extremely painful and took a long time to heal, and the leg is often never quite right again. That same winter an Iraqi refugee woman also slipped and fell several times on the ice. In that case LSSND did not give her any boots, although luckily she was not injured. What scared me the most was several years earlier when I found some Liberian and Sierra Leoneon refugee women in Fargo whom LSSND had not given any boots. One of the Liberian women was pregnant and I imagined her slipping on the ice and going into early labor.

Now I read that a refugee woman in Manchester, New Hampshire broke her arm on a slip on the ice, so I’m realizing that this is not uncommon at all.   

Udai Baskota, a newer resident of Laconia and a Bhutanese refugee, also shares his story in the documentary, which also includes Somalian and Iraqi refugees living in the Manchester area…

…Before the film showing, Baskota said he likes living in the Lakes Region now, but it was a difficult transition.

“At first I was scared,” Baskota said. In the documentary, he said he was frustrated at first because of all the cultural differences and the challenges of dealing with his first New England winter. He said that, during that first winter, his wife slipped on some ice and broke her armRead more here

I notice each winter that I slip on the ice too, but I always catch myself before I fall. Growing up in a northern state I learned as a child how to tread carefully on ice and how to stabilize myself when I begin to slide. Refugees who arrive here and face their first winter, especially if they are from a warm region and have no experience with ice or snow, are at greater risk from falls on the ice. Many refugees also have weaker bones due to previous malnourished, and are more likely to break bones when they fall. Hence, the absolute need for resettlement agencies to give all incoming refugees proper winter footwear. (The State Department’s Operational Guidance contract requires, “Appropriate seasonal clothing…for work, school, and everyday use…for all members of the family, including proper footwear for each member of the family”).

Posted in Burundian, clothes, Liberian, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Operational Guidance, Somali | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Responds to Freedom of Information Act Request

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 29, 2010

After I saw an article last month in the Grand Forks Herald about the Somali refugees that Border Patrol detained I posted on the incident, here. U.S. Customs & Border Protection agents detained the Somali refugees, one of whom had just arrived in the U.S. a month earlier, for failure to carry original copies of their immigration documents on their person.

Last week I put in a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Customs & Border Protection for the incident report. According to the agency’s response they consider me a “commercial” entity! They also demand that I pay $91.60 for the 11 page report, but only if I first send them written permission from the refugees in question. Hmmm.

What’s interesting about this is that, as you can see from my request, I requested the information as an individual. Apparently U.S. Customs & Border Protection personnel took it upon themselves to do some internet sleuthing on me, and then charged me for the hour of their time that it took. Of course a watchdog group like ours that isn’t even a nonprofit would hardly qualify as a commercial entity. In addition, they claim it would take two employees TWO MORE HOURS of their time to press the print button and put the eleven page report in an envelope to me. Interesting.

Still unanswered is why a Grand Forks police officer asked Somali residents of Grand Forks to show their identifications merely for watching the police question a Grand Forks Somali woman resident, Mulki Hoosh, about a parking violation. The Grand Forks police officers then called in Border Patrol agents to detain four Somali residents who could not produce original copies of their  I-94 or green cards. According to Hoosh the police said that they asked the Somali residents for their identification because they had “come to the scene of an investigation”. Apparently the police consider anyone just standing and watching them as suspicious. It’s clear that this is a warning to all residents that police civil servants will not allow residents to observe them at work without retaliation. Yet if people can’t watch the police in action how will we know whether they are acting according to the law? I guess I could understand if there were just one or two officers and they asked people to disperse, but in this case the police are deeming residents suspicious merely for standing and watching.

Funny how that works. I’m sure other public servants would also love to have the power to get rid of observers.

Posted in immigration documents, Lutheran Social Services of ND, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, North Dakota, Somali, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugees Face Discrimination in Job Search

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 19, 2010

A nursing home called the police on three Somali refugee women in Jamestown, North Dakota after they went in to apply for a job and were told to leave. According to an article in the Jamestown Sun the women were responding to a newspaper ad, but the administrator of the nursing home said she had inadvertently left the ad in the newspaper after filling the position two days earlier. Yet, after the women left an American friend called the nursing home and an employee told her that the position was still open. 

A dispute between a Somali woman applying for work and the management of a local nursing home degenerated into a loud conflict last week that led to law enforcement officers being called, according to reports from the Jamestown Police Department.

The incident occurred on Oct. 6 when Ismahan Ismail, accompanied by two friends, applied for a job at Bethel 4 Acres. Ismail has been a resident of Jamestown since April when she moved to the area from San Diego, Calif. Originally from Somalia, she has lived in the United States for 10 years…

…“They came in and wanted a job,” said Delores Bagan, administrator of Bethel 4 Acres. “We said the job was filled and they called me a liar and showed the ad from the paper. They kept on arguing. We told them the job was filled and they should go. They wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Bagan said she had filled the job “a couple of days” earlier but had inadvertently allowed the classified ad in The Jamestown Sun to continue to run. She also commented on the appearance of the women, who were dressed in full-length, robe-like dresses and head scarves.

Dressed in that flowing garb they couldn’t fill a position scrubbing floors and toilets,” she said.

Bagan said the women swore at her and didn’t leave until they saw the police…

…Ismail’s account of the incident differs.

We were looking for a job everywhere possible,” she said. “One lady came out, she didn’t have a welcoming face, she said there were no jobs so we left. Another lady came out and yelled ‘why you come three at a time.’ She said ‘leave my property’ and started cussing — and I was mad and cussing too.”

The incident caused people associated with the Somali refugee community to investigate.

I called (Bethel 4 Acres) right after I heard,” said Jackie Hyra, a Jamestown resident associated with the refugee community through her membership on the outreach committee of the First Congregational United Church of Christ. “I told them I lived in the country and didn’t want to drive in unless there was a job opening. I was told there were openings and I should come in.”

When asked about this, Bagan reiterated there were no job openings available and it’s possible an employee hadn’t been informed. Read more here

I suppose it is possible that the nursing home administrator left the ad running after filling the position. That happens often enough. But then an employee also tells someone calling that the position is still open? Well, I suppose that’s possible. Employees make mistakes.

One thing I can say though having taken hundreds of refugees to look for jobs – the experience is often best described as nothing less than peculiar. I took one African refugee to a furniture store to apply for a labor position and they told him the guy doing the hiring wasn’t in. They didn’t give him an application, tell him when to come back or anything. I told the refugee to go back in and ask when he should return. They told him to come back in two hours. When we returned two hours later they told the refugee once again that the guy wasn’t in. This was my first experience with an employer who didn’t at least offer an application.

I think employers that put out notices for job positions and then don’t let people apply for the positions should reasonably expect suspicion of their motivations.

Posted in employment/jobs for refugees, North Dakota, police, Somali, unwelcoming communities | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Peek Inside the State Department’s Office of Admissions as Bureaucrat Exits for her Golden Years

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 13, 2010

Terry Rusch, the Director of the Office of Admissions, PRM at the State Department is retiring. In her farewell address she tells us that staff at the PRM like to “party hard”. Of course, I never really doubted that during the past nine years of monitoring their office.

Refugees kept encountering the same disgraceful problems – whether it was resettlement to dangerous inner-city neighborhoods or having resettlement agency case workers who would not return calls or help refugees look for jobs – and always the Office of Admissions failed to address the issues. They usually just simply refused to respond to refugees’ complaints that we forwarded to them. The group that Rusch is retiring from is a tight inner circle of close associates that lives large, parties hard, and is absolutely heady about the magnificence of their humanitarian work.

According to Rusch:

The Bureau has always been home to intelligent, committed and hardworking people. It is a model of how the Department’s Civil and Foreign Service personnel can bring their various skills and expertise to the table to work on issues together – whether we are in crisis management or day-to-day operations mode. But those who work hard should party hard and PRM’s reputation for the latter is well-deserved. I’ll miss participating in our various theatrical productions in which we’ve spoofed everyone and everything refugee world-related, always with the goal of ensuring that no one was allowed to take themselves too seriously around here….

And now, a big part of the reason I am so comfortable with the move into retirement is that the program is in great shape and staffed with excellent officers led by a skilled and experienced leadership team of Larry, Kelly, Barbara and Amy…

…As in politics, all resettlement is local. Neither the federal government nor national voluntary agency headquarters resettle refugees. Communities do. Cities and towns across the country are on the front lines of refugee reception and integration – day-in, day-out, year-in, year-out. They are the ones who welcome the newcomer and give them the chance for a new life. They need to be listened to and deserve our respect and gratitude… Read more here

This last paragraph is a kicker because volunteers in our group have spent years helping refugees at the local level, during which time we have tried to open a dialogue with Terry Rusch to show her what was really happening locally, instead of the usual filtered picture she received via her refugee resettlement contractors. Rusch showed no sign of listening at all. In multiple dozens of letters we documented the failure of resettlement agencies to give the most minimal of refugee services which they were contractually obligated to, yet the Office of Admissions under Rusch ignored almost every one of these letters.

When the Lost Boys of Sudan refugees in Chicago complained of violent street attacks, Rusch’s office dismissed their complaints as mere “perceptions” of neighborhood safety. Rusch sent colleague Kelly Gauger to Chicago, who personally rejected our imploring that the Lost Boys said they had been repeatedly attacked. Nothing was done. A group of the Sudanese refugees were then attacked by a gang in their neighborhood the next month, with three of them receiving serious knife wounds.

When we warned Rusch’s Office of Admissions over the course of several years about refugees in Fargo whose resettlement agency did not give them winter coats, who gave the refugees broken furniture, forced them into foster care, and didn’t help them look for work, the Office of Admissions responding by waiting a few years to send monitors to inspect, and then marveling at the resettlement agency’s use of three-ring binders.

When we warned Rusch and her helpers about refugees outside Tampa who slept on the floor for months because their resettlement agency failed to give them any furniture and referred the refugees to jobs that involved 2-3 hour bike commutes in each direction to Pinellas County, there was no response for a year. What the Office of Admissions did with the complaint remains a secret mystery – a way in which they like to run the operation – but not only did things not change outside Tampa, they got worse. The next year the resettlement agency loaned out refugees as free labor, making them sign sheets of paper that were folded over so that the refugees could not see what they were signing. Rusch’s office did finally cut off the resettlement agency’s refugee resettlement contract but only after refugees were harmed for two more years.

I hope Ms. Rusch enjoys her retirement and her government pension, but refugees have had their lives permanently damaged by the sort of refugee resettlement services her office has managed over the years. Let’s hope that future leadership will have less interest in incessant Bureau staff meetings and office theatrical productions and more interest in responsible refugee resettlement, real listening, respect and gratitude of local communities, as well as the value of government transparency.

Posted in Chicago, neglect, North Dakota, openess and transparency in government, PRM, State Department, Sudanese, Tampa | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fargo Nepali-Bhutanese Refugees Face Unemployment, Eviction and Medical Bills

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 28, 2010

The number of Bhutanese refugees who have departed Nepal for the United States will reach 30,000 sometime in the first week of September, according the US embassy in Kathmandu. But success in the U.S. for the Nepali Bhutanese sometimes seem elusive. According to an article in Fargo Forum newspaper these refugees are grappling with the specter of unemployment, eviction and medical bills. Although North Dakota has the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at least ten refugee families, just among the Nepali-Bhutanese refugees in Fargo, have faced eviction notices.

…Community leaders say about 20 percent of Bhutanese of working age in town are unemployed. The newcomers are eager for work, but in an already tough job market, their candidacies can run into extra pitfalls…

…Even some of the Bhutanese who lined up jobs can find themselves living paycheck to paycheck….

…at least 10 families…have received eviction notices. With seven of them to his name, one [Bhutanese refugee] jokes, is “addicted to (the) eviction notice.”…

…Chilling stories about outsized medical bills have spread through the community. A retinal detachment surgery Kashi’s wife needed in the Twin Cities, for instance, set the family back about $12,000, which he’s vowed to pay off gradually.

If we are sick, we don’t go to the hospital – this is our scary part,” says [one Bhutanese refugee]…

Pierre Atilio, until recently a longtime immigrant advocate at Cultural Diversity Resources in Moorhead, says refugees across the board are grappling with economic survival.

In December, he accompanied an Iraqi widow to the Salvation Army. She resettled in the area with her teenage daughter and son in his 20s in 2008. Of the trio, she alone had lined up a job, four months after arriving here: a $7.50 an hour housekeeping gig.

It was a Friday; save for the Salvation Army intervention, she would have been evicted that Sunday.

You are confronted with poor people with fear in their eyes,” Atilio says. “And they are in America, the most powerful country in the world.”

The new-American services team at LSS says 2008 and early 2009 was a rough stretch for refugees. New arrivals weren’t landing jobs, and some who came earlier saw their hours or positions cut…

…And the recent crop of refugees has dodged actual evictions, a fact LSS is proud of, says [LSS refugee services director] Sinisa Milovanovic: “Within a year to a year and a half, we don’t see people contacting us anymore.”  Read more here

I’m not sure I understand why LSSND is proud that ten of the Bhutanese refugee families have faced eviction notices when North Dakota has the nation’s lowest unemployment rate and many more jobs than any other state. Yet, as I’ve found, in the refugee resettlement culture everything seems to be relative. If they have “less” evictions among their refugee clients they feel proud. But in Fargo? The place has cheap rents, low cost-of-living, and relatively plentiful jobs compared to any other place in the nation.

Posted in employment/jobs for refugees, Lutheran, Lutheran Social Services of ND, Nepali Bhutanese, North Dakota | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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