Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

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27 Responses to “Comments”

  1. help said

    Dear sir/madam

    I live with my two daughters (4 years old and 12 years old) and my husband.
    We are refugees from Iran and have been brought to US by UN through Turkey.
    We entered the US on the 15th of June 2011.
    An organisation called Lutheran Services of Georgia is been responsible for us since we are in the US to help us in this new society where we don’t know the language at all but we are in the danger of becoming homeless in the next few days.

    The society, language, the system and everything is all new for us. We are more then happy to work but with our poor English no one has provided us a job.
    We have been doing our best to learn English in the last 4-5 month.

    Where can we find organisations which can provide us some help?
    Is there a chance to get some social support in other states?

    Our aim is to learn English, work hard and provide our children a good education.

    Thank you very much and have a wonderful day
    Looking forward to hearing from you

    • Are you taking ESL classes where you live? If so, how are those classes?

      • Eddie said

        Horrific, Mr Cohen.
        “ESL classes” at refugee resettlement agencies’ Dungeons – consist of filling out employment applications and “practicing” job interviews by memorizing phrases.
        Certainly, English Language is not being taught there.
        You can sit down in any of the “classes” and see for yourself how these GUESTS in this country are treated.

  2. I had a telephone meeting with IOM Head of Office, Brian Graham. IOM is addressing all of Idaho Legal Aid’s travel loan cases directly with me. We found that the agencies were not offering refugees options such as deferrals and or write off of their travel loans and were not treating refugees the same among agencies.

    IOM is creating a website with information about the travel loans and eligibility criteria for deferrals and write offs. I told him that I want standard guidance and all agencies must tell refugees the rules from the beginning before they sign a promissory note.

    IOM will write off the travel loans with documentation for death, repatriation, bankruptcy, permanent disability (with a Dr’s letter saying the refugee is disabled and can’t work), minor orphans. Case-by-case for incarceration, victims of violence, domestic violence victims and documented financial hardship.

    Received deferrals for temporary disabilities and documented under or unemployed.

    IOM is going to correct the credit report of all of my clients that were reported to TransUnion for defaulting on their loans because the agencies did not notify them of their right to a deferral and or write off and thus should never have been reported. The issue of damaged credit is still outstanding.

    I explained to them that families need to be able to make their own travel arrangements especially if it is cheaper, and translate promissory notes in other languages and the bills too.

    They are going to provide better orientation on the travel loan in the refugee country and here with Title VI compliant services.

    They are going to redo their computer system to better monitor travel loan collection practices.

    I would like to know if anyone has successfully challenged the legality of said loan. The promissory notes are governed by DC law. To collect a debt in Idaho once in default, an entity has to show the person owes the debt and that the collector (IOM) has registered in the State of Idaho to collect a debt. Our clients’ loans have been deferred or written off. Now I am working on the deferrals—hoping to get more write offs and or reduced payments for disputed loans and or hardship. On April 19 and 20, I will provide a fair housing and travel loan clinics in Boise and Twin Falls.

    Thank you,

    Zoe Ann Olson
    Attorney at Law
    Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc.
    1-(208)-345-0106, extension 1508
    Facsimile 1-(208)-342-2561
    310 North 5th Street
    Boise, Idaho 83702
    zoeannolson [at] idaholegalaid [dot] org

  3. John olson said

    I am an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona and have been involved as a volunteer for many years, trying to make a difference with the education of the school age children of refugees.

    For many adult refugees, life may never be easy in the United States, due to a lack of prior language skills, and also a lack of relevant education and specific job skills. There is a certain amount of that result which is somewhat inevitable, given the resources that are available.

    But for the children, there is no excuse. It would not take much in the way of resources to change dramatically the outcome for the school age refugee children. Why do we bring them here if we are not going to at least give the children the chance to receive a fine education, which opens all of the doors to the potential that is possible for the American middle class?

    The refugees are mostly resettled in areas of the Phoenix metro area that have large clusters of refugees, and that are usually located in the worst school districts. The refugee parents often understand the tremendous benefits of a good education for their children, but do not understand that a free education in this country may not be worth much, if they happen to be resettled in a neighborhood that is served by the very poor schools.

    So while all of those who make their living from refugees continue to talk about educational resources and ways to improve the educational opportunities for refugee children, the reality is that most of these children attend poorly performing schools, where they will learn little. And each year, a whole new batch shows up in every city in the country, to be subjected to the same inferior schools.

    This often means that they can drop out, and become a part of the large underclass in America, which each day sentences itself to a life of struggle due to poor or little education. But these children should not be sentenced to such a life, shortly after they arrive on these shores. Refugee children should not be pushed toward that outcome, solely because it is easy to place families in certain parts of a community.

    There are few ways to try to improve the educational opportunities for the children, such as with tutoring (especially in ESL), moving a few of the more motivated students to the better charter schools and sometimes even the private schools (which in Phoenix have been incredibly willing to provide full tuition scholarships to a small number of “lucky” refugee students), and we have even tried to provide transportation so that the students can actually travel to these better schools.

    But all of these efforts are small, compared to the large percentage of children who are shunted into poorly performing schools, and whose entire life in the United States will be forever tainted by the bad schools that they attended.

    There is one incredibly simple answer, which would be to resettle families in areas of the city that are within the boundaries of the better schools. Just that simple. Locate them in a high quality school district, and the children will have a chance to excel.

    Why is it that most of the refugee families are resettled into apartment complexes that are within the districts with only the very poor schools? There are lower priced apartments in virtually all school districts in the metro Phoenix area.

    Conversations about this topic have been to no avail, because everyone with whom I can have such a conversation is part of the system–and they believe it is all just fine. “Yes, there are deficiencies, but we are doing the best we can.” No, they are not.

    So long as families with children are placed into the boundaries of school districts that will likely provide an inferior education, then the resettlement agency is not doing the best that it can.

    But who in the entire country is in a position to care, and to take action?

    Is there anyone–outside of the paid employees of the various agencies (that are in fact part of the problem) that care?

    John Olson
    Phoenix

    • The federal refugee resettlement agencies are in partnership with the private resettlement agencies, rather than exercising authority with full oversight, therefore that option is someone limited. Nevertheless you could still report the problem to them. Its best to have facts, so find out how much the refugees are paying in their current apartments and then see if you can find that rate in other school districts. Are those other districts also connected to the rest of the city with mass transit? (the adult refugees will depend on mass transit)

      There is also the route of reporting the problem to your federal Congressional representative and senators, who are supposed to oversee the federal agencies. They tend to side with the federal agencies however unless their is some political advantage for them. So again, be heavy on the facts and possible solutions.

    • Bill Kirby said

      Dear John Olson,

      I can’t give you much information about school district choice for refugees, but I can tell you that people in one refugee group in the Quad Cities of Illinois are doing what they can to supplement the education their children receive. The group is the Karen from Burma, and some of their young adults have organized an after school program for those of student age. It meets three nights a week, and sometimes on Saturday, at the local public library in Rock Island. The library has lots of educational resources and is free to use.

      I’m an American volunteer with the program, and I provide reading and vocabulary worksheet to the students. The students range in age from 1st grade to 12th grade. The Karen refugees who are in charge of the program have see the challenges all the student age refugees face, and want to do something to help. The head of the program, named Pah Bi, has his own blog,

      pahbi.wordpress.com

      Maybe some of the refugee adults or Americans interested in enhancing the education of the refugee students in Phoenix can try something similar at libraries in that area.

      If you want more details about the library after school program the Karen refugees have here, please let me know. We sometimes have as many as 40 students.

      Bill Kirbyabout it.

      • Eddie said

        How about a quality education, Bill?
        you know… classes, instruction, safe environment, well equipped classrooms, decent teachers… etc
        you know… Schools !

        What you are doing is admirable, but is not a substitute for an educational system.

    • grandpaviv said

      Mr. Olson, volunteer to help place the next refugee family in a better section of town, as you suggest. You will likely find that all the landlords insist on doing a credit record and criminal record check, and maybe also want references. The only landlords in town who will rent without those checks are those with run down property. Once a refugee enclave gets started, all new refugees from that country want to stay close. To break the cycle it is necessary to get the family to move after it has been here a year and worked through its first apartment lease. If the family has a job and a credit record, it will be easier to find a better rental.

      • Eddie said

        Absolute nonsense.
        A new arrival — has NO credit history. Negative or positive.
        Noone in their right mind would request a good credit rating from someone who just landed here.
        And Noone is going to be That ignorant to request a criminal check on someone Who Just Landed Here.
        References are provided by the refugee resettlement agencies.
        It is absolute urban myth that you propagate with “refugees from that country want to stay close”.
        Noone WANTS to live in a ghetto. Completely isolated from society in which they are supposedly to start a new life.
        They are PLACED into ghettos by resettlement agencies.

    • Eddie said

      Why are they being pushed into slums and ghettos John? Simple – to gentrify black neighborhoods.
      The better locations in the city — where whitey lives — said : “Nuh uhh … ya aint placin them foreign trash in mah neighborhood. Their lice-ridden kids next to mah kids. Stick em ovah there with blacks”
      Racism John. Can we not say it here? Is it unthinkable?

  4. Zoe Ann Olson said

    The segregation of and discrimination of refugees in inferior schools will not change until we end the segregation of refugees in housing across the country. Children go to school where they live. In Idaho, refugee agencies segregate families in housing they do not choose, cannot afford, and in some instances, the housing does not comply with guidance in the Cooperative Agreement and or habitabilility or accessibility standards. Advocates and refugees need to ask the agencies to change their practices. If that doesn’t work as it didn’t work in Idaho, then advocates/agencies need to use the legal system and administrative proceedings to end these practices. If the housing providers and the school system are part of the problem, then the advocates should be addressing these barriers too.

    You are right–refugee families need to be given choice to locate in areas where schools perform well. The key is choice. Refugees should be given choice and empowered with information about their rights.

  5. Matthew Johnston said

    I am the director of SEGUE Refugee Partnership Ministry, and would like to address the claim above that this organization wants to lead Bhutanese away from their cultural roots. While it is true that we are a Christian organization, we have great respect for Hindu faith and culture. It is our desire to lead people to Jesus Christ, a great guru and prophet par excellence. We believe that only through Christ can salvation be found. However, we by no means pull people away from Hindu culture, and have no desire to do so. We have attended many Hindu religious and cultural events, and have learned much from them. We have strong Hindu Bhutanese friends and strong Christian Bhutanese friends. We would like to dialogue with you about how to best learn from and serve this community.

    • What I can say is that these Hindu refugees aren’t lacking in the guru and spiritual category. If your faith or spirituality or beliefs are wanted, people will come to you.

    • Eddie said

      What possible solidarity could you have to anyone who is Not a christian?
      People whom you don’t even consider Human – because they haven’t accepted your jebus?
      You should stick to resettling your own kind.
      The Very Last Thing these already traumatized people need – is an injection of religion in their lives.
      Any psychologist/psychiatrist will tell you that.

  6. Paul said

    am an Africa from Uganda,me and my partner have ran from our homeland to Kenya..but its not even safe here because its alos illgel here in Kenya…life isn`t goo at all here,no job.no house.no food….its better to die..i cna`t go back to my home becasue i love my life..we have registered with UN,now waiting for our resettlement to U.S.A but tis coming to a year waiting…..we lost weights,..we have tried so much to kill our selves but why would our kill your self for who you are….
    we have seen many die of hunger,diseases,killed by mob..but why are we killed for who we are…..am saying this on behalf of other gays am with here.we sleep like frogs here,people fear co-operating wit us..
    Am really saying all these so that the whole world gets to know what we go through and call out for our rights….
    you people there need to do something to help us..if an American went to Uganda saw the victims of Kory and it spread the whole world,why can`t the same happen to the victims of homophobia..we have seen loved ones dying in pain
    Isn`t that against human rights!!!! we are niot a mistake to be on earth….
    any one who sees this pls do something please
    Paul(Refugee in Kenya)
    morgankilo@yahoo.com

  7. Afghanistan said

    Hi Dear Sir,
    I have a question how long it takes to wait for interview and medical checkup?
    I have submitted DS-260 online all my paper work is done.

    Thanks From Afghanistan,

  8. Deepesh said

    Dear Sir/Madam
    I am Deepesh Pokhrel (DOB: 24.Apr.1989) from remote area of Nepal. I have five members in my family (One elder sister, one younger brother, Dad and Mommy) and my family’s financial condition is not good. I have completed graduation on Business and Management. I was studying in a scholarship provided by College. So, i want to pursue my higher education there and work part time as well.

    Is there any chance or any help this organization could provide?
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    • We are an all-volunteer group and we don’t have funds available to give out but we could advise you. Where are you located?

    • Eddie said

      Do not come here Deepesh.
      This is the wrong country to look for resettlement to.
      You will not be welcomed as a person of value, and a guest in this country.
      You will not be allowed to continue your education.
      You will be treated as an illegal immigrant and forced into worst possible, least paying manual labor.
      If you can in any way stay in Nepal – Please do so , for your own sake.

      • I diagree. He can continue his education here. He will not be treated as an illegal immigrant by most people, and certainly not by the government. He may have to start in an entry level job that is not easy, but he can move to a diffrent location in search of a better job or work his way up in the original location. (Eddie, no, I have not restricted your emails.)

  9. Jawed said

    Hello dear sir/madam,
    I am a resident of Afghanistan, I have USA special immigration visa (IV). I have applied for refugee benefits about a month ago but I have not heard anything from Refugee Processing Center (RPC), could you please tell me that how long does it take for (RPC) to contact me, and what is your idea if I buy ticket and don’t wait of (RPC), if I travel by myself is there any organization or office that I refer to them to get some refugee benefits I mean (housing, medical services…….).

    Thanks for your cooperation,

  10. ahmadnaweedibrahimi said

    I am ahmadnaweed ibrahimi comment from afghanistan i have alot of problem from my education that i dont have the facility of the education so that idecided to to select this program to help me to improve and serve to the mankind

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